Sculptor Anish Kapoor almost ducks as a cannon fires a pellet of Red Wax against a towering white wall. The work, Shooting Into The Corner, is one among the nine on display at Mehboob Studio in Bandra, where Kapoor opened his first-ever exhibition in the city.
"It has taken ten years for this to materialise. I have struggled to find the right space. I hope it’s worth it, since this is a very emotional moment for me," says Kapoor looking dapper in a grey suit.
The award-winning artist, who was born in Mumbai, brings in some of his signature works created in recent times, to an unconventional space like a Bollywood studio.
"I like exploring new spaces with every exhibition. Mehboob Studio is a site that belongs to Mumbai. It’s been a creative breeding ground since the Mother India days. And the venue is one of the few spaces where I could bring in my gigantic pieces," he says.
On the Mumbai leg of Kapoor’s first twin-city exhibition, titled Delhi-Mumbai, Kapoor brings home colossal pieces, that leave his onlookers dwarfed. Awe-inspiring yet realistic, the 56-year-old sculptor’s show comprises his signature gigantic, highly reflective stainless steel orbs and ends, which create playful illusory distortions for viewers as it reflects them. "Anish’s work provides intellectual stimulation and visual delight," says Ruth Gee, regional director of British Council.
“It’s an unusual installation show. Nothing here is static,” says Andrea Rose, curator of the show, which is bound to drastically change over the two months. The show in Mumbai showcases some of the recent pieces by the artist.
“It’s not a retrospective like Delhi. In fact, most of the pieces here have been made within the last five to six years. The two shows explore the two cities differently— with Delhi seen as a history city and Mumbai as a modern one.”
The selection of the artefacts confirms Kapoor, have not been made specifically for India. “It’s hard to tailor-make a show. I feel that the audience and the sensibilities here are no different from my audience in Europe,” opines Kapoor.
On why he shies away from being tagged an artist of Indian origin, Kapoor retorts, “I don’t shy away. I’m not interested in being tagged as one. We don’t do this to American and English artists, then why this obsession with Indian artists?” questions Kapoor. “My work reflects that my sensibilities are Indian and I celebrate that. But I wish to occupy an aesthetic territory that is not linked to nationality.”
One of the most influential sculptors of this age, Kapoor, who is currently busy working on a tower titled Arcelor Mittal Orbit for the London Olympics, is a bit distraught with the state of public art in India. “It is sad that there is little public art in a culturally mature country like India. Sonia Gandhi has expressed her interest in encouraging public art, so I’ll say I hope to contribute to the form here.”