Star rating – 8/10
There are several compelling reasons to go and see this exhibition by Anish Kapoor at Manchester Art Gallery before it goes on tour around the county after 5th June:
Firstly, it is amazingly the first major exhibition of the Turner Prize winning British sculptor’s work outside London since 1999, so it’s a great triumph for Manchester. Secondly, it’s free of charge, which in this age of austerity, cuts, and redundancies, many of which are affecting this very gallery at the present time, is something which is unlikely to last for very much longer. Thirdly, Kapoor is a very outspoken critic of the current Government’s policies towards the arts which he feels will take us back to the dark ages of the Thatcher Government when arts programmes were slashed, and regional arts funding was a distant memory. And well done to Kapoor for staying true to the ideals that helped him to establish himself as such a world renowned artist in the first place. And lastly, but by no means least, of course, are the works themselves, some of which are truly breathtaking.
It’s not a particularly large exhibition, but Kapoor shows here how he creates stunning sculptures from wax and polished stainless steel to produce beautiful and often extremely sensuous objects. He is famous for his use of colour, and for his silver mirrored surfaces on an impressive scale, such as his ‘Turning the World Inside Out’ from 1995. This is a huge silver curved piece which reflects the viewer and the surrounding room, but whose images get distorted within its curves and central concave dip. And in ‘Untitled’, also from 1995 he produces another large silver installation which gives more than a passing nod to the more intimate parts of female human anatomy, and which is fluid and fascinating.
It is his huge metallic concave pieces that moved me the most, particularly ‘Her Blood’, the deep crimson colour of which is hypnotic. Kapoor works tirelessly to remove any trace of his own artist’s hand in these perfect conceptions. They are huge and beautiful and perfect.
So go and celebrate a sculptural genius whilst you can; go for free while this publicly subsidised visual delight lasts; and go while the people in London haven’t realised that we have (temporarily at least) stolen for us Northerners some of the treasures they like to keep for themselves.