Inviting Chaos Into Versailles: Anish Kapoor 2015
Placing objects here and there means nothing. My idea was to upset the balance and invite chaos in”, Anish Kapoor. The Guardian
I was shocked aesthetically when I saw Anish Kapoor’s gigantic Leviathan inside the Grand Palais in Paris, 2011, an immense dark red inflated membrane structure that could be viewed and penetrated from the outside and the inside. I just had the same physical experience in the gardens of Le Nôtre in Versailles.
For Anish Kapoor, a work of art doesn’t exist alone but through its viewer. The visitor at Versailles will witness the dualities of artist’s work: heaven and earth, visible and invisible, inside and outside, shadow and light… This universe can be read through experience and imagination. The originality of this exhibition, what makes it unique, even to those who have long been familiar with Kapoor’s work around the world, is that in Versailles his vision meets an imagination set in stone by history. The very controlled landscape of Versailles is drawn into instability.
The grounds become uncertain and moving. Waters swirl. Romantic ruins take hold of the Tapis Vert. Exposed interior orifices are hidden within the garden’s labyrinths. The mirrors that are so central to Versailles now distort it. This world is perhaps about to tip over. It is not by chance that Anish Kapoor was the first to push open the door to the Jeu de Paume, which he considers as a work of art in itself, to exhibit his installation. Anish Kapoor draws us into a hidden history, within the boundaries of Versailles”, Catherine Pégard. President of the Palace of Versailles.
There is something unique about the Versailles garden experience. You never realice that they are so vast and symmetric until you walk them. The entire art parcours takes about three hours. As you look at the art installations you can also explore the hundreds of hidden mazes and lanes, fields and woods, water canals and fountains, pebbly esplanades and open yellow stone surfaces. It strikes you that were is no other color but green and ochre. Kapoor’s sculptures are integrated into this monumental layout sometimes blending in seamlessly and others sticking out brazingly.
“Kapoor is an artist of monumentality, he has created many extraordinarily striking site specific works, from Chicago to Jerusalem; his approach in Versailles is ambitious and clear, he revives through the chosen sculptures some of the themes which have fed the imagination of the centuries which unfolded here: the magic of ruins, the energy of flowing waters, the symbolic strength of the sun, the secret of the groves, the reflection of mirrors, the conquest of freedom”, Alfred Pacquement, Curator.
The architecture or the scenery reflected in Sky Mirror shows an unstable and changing world, deconstructing the surrounding space. What strikes the most when looking at the piece Descension was the blackness of the water and the loud eery sound, which I tried to catch in the video below.
“A pool of dark water swirls in a terrifying spiral, never stopping, never emitting light. It looks black and bottomless. It is the whirlpool to end all whirlpools”, The Guardian. “The viewer is sometimes invited to penetrate within sculptures, which are then similar to architectures, to experience their interiority and to see the surprising spaces hidden from outside revealed”, Alfred Pacquement, Curator.
The experience to which the artist aspires can also be interpreted in charged materials such as thick blood-colored wax, evocative of flesh and entrails. Such is the case of Shooting into the Corner, an installation shown in France for the first time. Evocative of reality, without ever being figurative, Kapoor’s sculpture is a “landscape of the body”. The oppositions between the rough and the polished, the full and the void, the mass and the absence of mass are central to his approach”, Alfred Pacquement, Curator.
“A cannon appears to have messily blasted out red wax in a metaphor of blood and guts – which the artist described in Le Journal du Dimanche as “clearly a phallic symbol” and part of “a controversial installation that raises the question of violence in contemporary society”. He said the head of the Palace of Versailles had been very “brave and generous” because his work was a “provocation”. The Guardian.
Anish Kapoor’s pieces were meant to speak to the work of Le Nôtre, “who has ordered nature for eternity with his perfect geometric perspectives”., The Guardian.
*Principal photograph: Dirty Corner or “The Queen’s Vagina. ” Anish Kapoor Chateau De Versailles 2015. Photo credit The Guardian.