I must have been a bad art student.
I should have been familiar with the work of Anish Kapoor, the celebrated British artist. However, only his Cloud Bridge sculpture in Chicago came to mind and I couldn’t even remember if I liked it. While Barret was thrilled about the upcoming Kapoor exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, I was worried about paying $20 for 80s minimalism. Not my favorite genre.
One of the first pieces I encountered was a dark blue rectangle on the wall called My Body Your Body. Aside from the intensity of the color the only other thing I noticed were the crisp borders. But since fanatically clean edges do not an exciting exhibit make, I stifled a yawn and walked past.
Wait a second.
I retraced my steps and took a closer look at the midnight blue pigment. Like a small dog deciding how to jump up on a couch, I shuffled back and forth in front of the piece. Nothing, nothing, nothing, THERE!
What I had taken to be flat was actually a three dimensional object recessed into the wall. The only giveaway was a patch of blue a little more inky and dark than the surrounding color. The visual deception was best explained by the museum catalog as ‘exploring the possibility that color can be experienced as an almost physical element of the artwork’. The pigmented color absorbed the light so effectively that the transition was completely seamless. The blue void felt real and I just wanted to reach my hand over to prove how solid and tangible it was.
There was also a good collection of Kapoor’s highly polished stainless steel sculptures. In theory they sounded simple-a piece of metal in the shape of a C or an S. In photographs they felt underwhelming or even a bit funhouse-y. In person, however, it felt surreal.
Because, to truly appreciate the mirrored quality of the stainless steel sculptures, you had to gaze at yourself. The way your body warped as you walked towards the piece. The way two legs melted into one thick trunk or the way your head fractured into a thousand splinters. The way, as you approached the C-Curve, the room swirled in your periphery in hallucinogenic swirls.
If there hadn’t been so many other museum visitors, I could have gazed all afternoon at my reflection in the sculptures. However, I chose to be careful where I stepped around so many other camera-wielding guests.
Did I mention it’s a bad exhibit to visit in a short skirt?
How to get to the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia: 140 George St, The Rocks, Sydney NSW 2000
About: Anish Kapoor