Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Look out India! Anish Kapoor is here!!!

There is so much of art happening around these days that one hardly responds to the art that you see, hear or read unless you know the artist, or the artist happens be known. Anish Kapoor belongs to the latter category. He is known all over the world as most important and famous living artist of our time . Ironically he is not so known figure in India at least to its masses.

In a recent article dated, 27th nov., Rebecca Tyrrel, wrote an article in The Gardian on Artist Anish Kappoor's first ever exhibition in India, the place of his origin. Article titled "Anish Kapoor: Look out India Here I come ", raises many issues including the one why he wants to show his works in India.

This is my response.

Anish Kapoor is here!

So why did Anish Kapoor come to India? What is the significance of Anish Kapoor to Indian art world and its people on the street?

According to the sponsors and organizer it took 10 years of planning, blood- sweat, pain disappointments and millions of pounds to get Anish Kapoor's works in India. So you can image how important it was for the organizers to showcase Kapoor in India at this point of time . And it is again Kapoor's own personal interest in getting the works to India has finally succeeded in bringing such an exhibition. Kapoor proclaimed, “ I don't think people in India has seen anything like this before”.

For those who do not know, Anish Kapoor , was born in India to a Sikh father and a Jew mother. After spending his early years in Mumbai he left India and the Indian citizenship to identify himself with more sophisticated British people and their art..

What happened after is history . He won the the golden Lion at Venice Biennial. And later the coveted Turner prize( meant for British artist) . Such an achievements made every one sit up and take notice of the artist who had quintessentially an Indian name . Indian media, who is quick to claim ownership on any semblance of Indian-ness of an expat ( irrespective of the person who may or may not intend to associate with India or Indian-ness. For instance Kalpana Chawla, Freddy Mercury or Nobel winner Chandrashekhar.) was eager to claim the artist's success to his Indian origin just to strengthen the brand India on global map. . But ask Kapoor about India and his past, he conveniently brushes the issue aside by saying he does not believe in ” national allegiances” and his art is “beyond boundaries”, only to emphasize that he is a British Artist.

So why is Kapoor so keen on showing his works to the poor man of India who lives on the streets in 'shit homes' and barley makes ends meet ? Or is he keen to show his art to Indian art world which he believes is “not sophisticated” enough by international standards. Or is it the government of India who was keen to bring him here more than Kapoor wanting to come? ( as one of the official bragged that how hard he had been toiling for this show for past ten years) .

Certainly more questions than answers .

Anish Kapoor is a man of few words. He does not believe in “artist as celebrity”. Instead prefers his works to speak for themselves. Again he says “ As an artist I have nothing to say”. He insists on calling his studio as laboratory. And he is always smiling, as Tyrrel observes.

Kapoor might be ignorant of art world in India or the poverty that exists in India. But he is certainly not ignorant of who He is. He is not introvert, and certainly not shy person as you assume to be. He is very aware of his stature and power that he commands on the global art scene. He is aware of the price that his works fetch and he is aware that only the rich and famous can afford his works irrespective of whether they mean anything for them. Above all, he certainly knows how his funds for the next mega project will come from.

He does not shy away from fame, money and glamor. ( why should he?)He certainly does not shy away from the photo ops with netas ( politicians) and natis ( actresses) or turn away from small time a page 3 wannabe celebrity, who wants to capture the moment .( Again why should he?)And he knows one thing, he is here for the people of India to come and see his work and recognize his brilliance.

Look Out India:

Anish Kapoor has arrived. Indeed there has never been a show of this magnitude of a living contemporary artist held in independent India. Split between two 'spaces' and cities Delhi and Mumbai, Kapoor tries to make a statement by spreading his oeuvre to bureaucrats ,politicians, artist, celebrities, industrialists, journalists and the public at large to decide if he is Indian artist or not.

Bureaucrats and politicians are humbled by Kapoor's presence, and the glory he has achieved on international scene. Industrialists are simply humbled by the price he fetches in auctions. Artists are humbled by Kapoor's scale, perfection and precision with which works are executed. Journalists are humbled by Kapoor's inaccessibility maintained by him in spite of limelight. But men who are untouched by Anish Kapoor's fame, glory, success, and presence is people of India.

This is the irony that Kapoor is here to solve. Kapoor's succes as an contemporary artist is not just through his collectible sculpture owned by who is who of rich world. But the public sculptures that have created huge impact on the masses in America and England where some of his major works have been installed.

Kapoor is the only artist people know off after Henry Moore in England. This is what Kapoor loves and wants to live for.He knows his works will live longer than the celebrity fame that he gets in his lifetime. Recognition from the people. That's what he want to achieve by connecting to man on the street who lives on 7 Rupees a week earnings, and builds 'shit homes' in India.

This is not about Indian- ness or British- ness. This is a simple business proposition. Can he get a commission for a mega public sculpture?. He knows that with Indian economy booming, India CAN. All he needs is a simple invitation and a pay cheque. Is anyone listening?

Look out India! Anish Kapoor is here!!

Anish Kapoor says, art has no boundaries.

Indeed art can be without boundaries but there is no art without politics.