[intro]Anish Kapoor isn’t Tracey Emin[/intro]
The Times has a good profile of Anish Kapoor that’s well worth reading. But it is striking to see this description of Kapoor’s studio with its 20 assistants and production techniques similar to Koons and Hirst yet never hear complaints that he doesn’t make his own work.
To spend time with him there is to appreciate he is indeed a global brand with an empire to run. Housed in a factory that once produced shutters, his workshop is a series of vast sheds where teams of craftsmen toil under his command. This is the place where “art arises”, as he puts it. “I am playing with form, trying things out.” He is engaged on several projects — “Working on more than one thing at a time is fruitful” — so some pieces are nearing completion, fully dressed, others in states of deshabille. His art arises from a mysterious place: “You learn to live with not knowing what’s going on… and ‘not knowing’ is part of the process.” He is excited by what shapes he can produce by pouring cement: “It’s not dissimilar to Jackson Pollock dropping oil on canvas.” These extruded pieces, redolent of human and animal waste, are bound to be controversial.
Part foundry, part body shop, his studio is a clattering, hammering place of constant activity; of fork-lift trucks, paint-sprayers and churning cement mixers. There’s a man in protective clothing fashioning the fibreglass, and a polishing room where the sculptures are finished to perfection. It’s all a glorious laboratory of beauty — and nothing leaves until The Master says it’s ready. And He is always obeyed. “I’m an autocrat,” he says, as if we hadn’t guessed.
To be fair, the monumental size would preclude it. But perhaps another reason is the fact that Kapoor is consistent about keeping his self-hood out of his work, including the question of whether he is an Indian artist or a global one:
Kapoor in person is beguiling. He has always been reluctant to explain his work — to define it would be to limit it — and himself. “I have said in the past that I’m not Tracey Emin,” he says of the artist whose private world, particularly her sex life, informs her art. “I don’t have to display my psycho-biography. One doesn’t have to act out one’s own neurosis or psychosis in one’s work.”
He has also fought shy of being labelled an Indian artist. The question of roots vexes him. “Boring!” he exclaims, when the subject comes up. “It’s not what I choose to emphasise.” Here is an artist who is interested in what he calls “emotionality”, the individual’s response to his work, not nationality. He famously refused to take part in a show some years ago at the Hayward Gallery dedicated to the work of Asian and black artists in post-war Britain. […] For Kapoor, born in Bombay to a Hindu father and a Jewish mother, his background is no straightforward matter.
Anish Kapoor: Mr. Big (Times of London)