The Year of Anish Kapoor imagine...


The Year of Anish Kapoor

Alan Yentob meets one of Britain's most accomplished and popular sculptors, Anish Kapoor, known for his audacious works of staggering complexity and scale.


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BBC Four Collections -

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specially-chosen programmes from the BBC archive.

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ALAN YENTOB: 'Anish Kapoor has been changing the way

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'we think about sculpture

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'for over 30 years.

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'His work has captivated the public and the art world

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'with its awesome scale and intriguing beauty.'

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ANISH KAPOOR: You can't set out to make something beautiful,

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I mean, you can't.

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But what you can do is recognise that there are moments

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when it's there, and say, "Ah, that's something I could go after,"

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or, "That's something I could leave alone."

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'In tonight's Imagine,

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'we follow him as he stages a landmark exhibition

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'at the Royal Academy,

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'the first living artist to be given the entire gallery -

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'a recognition of Kapoor's place

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'as one of the world's foremost artists.'

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The hard bit is how not to compromise.

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'May, 2009.

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'On top of the South Downs near Brighton,

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'a mysterious object merges with the landscape.'

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C-Curve, as in the letter C.

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This is quite

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disorientating, you know...

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..in a rather interesting way.

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'This strange mirrored object

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'seems to have reconfigured space here.

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'Is this a new form of landscape painting?'

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Now I have the real landscape on my right...

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..and the image on my left.

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So I'm moving in and out of the landscape

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and I can see this curve now,

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I don't know if it's in my head.

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SHEEP BLEAT

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I think I've invaded their territory.

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So what's the problem?

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'Shown as part of the Brighton Festival

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'in May 2009,

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'C-Curve draws huge crowds,

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'despite its remote location.'

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It's really, really beautiful,

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that's the first thing that kind of strikes you.

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The sheer expanse of it,

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it's really quite overwhelming.

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I like the way on one side it's the right way up,

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and on the other side it's upside down and 3-D,

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like a spoon.

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NEW SPEAKER: I think it's quite nice to think

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that when everyone's gone home at night,

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it's sitting on the hilltop, doing its thing still,

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for anyone, or any sheep, that cares to walk past.

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NEW SPEAKER: It seems almost quite mysterious.

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It's very simple,

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but when you get closer and closer

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you realise it's actually much more complex.

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NEW SPEAKER: It's a shared experience

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and I think that's a pretty good thing.

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I am very concerned with the ability of art to say, you know,

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"Come on in, you can be part of this."

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Or somehow there's a language here

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that actually is one that maybe you know already.

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And that's partly to do with the sense that it's experiential.

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It's not just an image you look at,

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it's a process you go through.

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What one wants to do, at one level, is to engage,

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and at another level, one wants to always hold on to seriousness.

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And, erm...

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it's a difficult one.

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It's very hard to do both.

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Smaller at the top.

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'Three months until the Royal Academy exhibition,

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'and Anish Kapoor is busy in his south London studio.

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'I join him to see how things are going.'

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So...

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The studio is really the place where things get discovered,

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where things open themselves in one way or another.

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But, you know, we're sort of... making things.

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What we're doing at the moment

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is to mimic what this object might be like

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if you painted it.

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Of course, the image is upside down, first of all.

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Secondly, the image isn't sitting on any plane.

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It isn't back there,

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or out here,

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it's in some intangible and almost physical place,

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somewhere around here.

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One might say, "Why is that art?"

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I quite like the question, by the way.

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- You're not frightened of that? - No, I think it's a good question.

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In some ways, the work, the art,

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needs to continue to resonate.

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And it's that...measure

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of whether it really resonates or not

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that is the thing that I'm after.

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That kind of simple

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but somehow mysterious poetic quality.

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It's like a piece of the sky

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that you can look at.

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You'll see that the clouds move very slowly across

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and it makes you think that you're moving,

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and the piece itself is actually moving and alive.

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It does really give you the sense

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that it's something else beyond what it actually is reflecting.

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And then a bird flies at a great speed across it,

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and I found myself at first looking beyond the shape,

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to see where the bird had gone.

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If you step up close to it,

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you have the sense you could be completely absorbed by it

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and just disappear into it, and become part of it.

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It's actually... I mean, it's incredible.

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The cost of it is £1.3 million...

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SECURITY RADIO: '41 to Patrol Six.'

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'Patrol Six, receiving.'

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In the night, it has got very high-risk,

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because drunk people, they come around, try to touch it,

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try to cover it, try to do anything.

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That's why we stand in there all the time.

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It changes from every direction,

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and not only from every direction,

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but with every movement of the sky, change of light.

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I think that's what draws me very much to it.

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You could stand and look at it for hours

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and never see the same thing, and I think that's just amazing.

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It just changes, you know.

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In that corner, I was watching a little bit of the pavilion,

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I walked around here and saw the whole tree, it's absolutely lovely.

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NEW SPEAKER: I think this is a really good place for it,

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because it's a place that everyone passes through

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and you've got sort of landscape and heritage,

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and then something totally, totally modern,

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as if it's just flown in overnight, yes.

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It's an extra-terrestrial quality, I think.

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'When thinking about Kapoor's work,

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'many different words come to mind.

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'Beguiling,

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'mercurial,

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'puzzling,

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'arresting.

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'He's best known in Britain for Marsyas,

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'shown at Tate Modern in 2002,

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'a work of staggering complexity and scale.

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'It was seen by over 1.8 million people,

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'making it one of the most visited works of sculpture in the world.

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'There are few artists today capable of taking on such commissions.

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'His stature in the art world

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'is matched by his immense popularity with the public.'

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Are you confident that if you had six to eight weeks on it...?

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'Now he faces a challenge without precedent.

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'The Royal Academy has handed him the entire gallery,

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'an honour it has offered no other living artist.'

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Well, like a lot of the people here,

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we're just making.. whatever Anish wants, really.

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It's quite a heavy piece, this one,

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because we want it to really keep its form.

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Just to be there, just floating, really.

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I tend to make it up to the point

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where it then starts getting finished.

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I sort of get the glory bit with Anish,

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because he's basically just really keen on the final finishes.

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He's not so interested in the process before that.

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He's sometimes really difficult to work with,

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so you've got to get into the state with him

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where he's happy with what he's looking at.

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So it's just a case of reading his mind,

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and that's not always very easy to do.

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At the moment, it's matt.

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It will be, I think, glossy.

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The paint, in fact, is...is...

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We've just sort of sanded it down

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and it's about to be polished.

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Of course, with any sculpture, I suppose,

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where you place yourself in relation to the body,

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in relation to the sculpture, alters things,

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but there are all kinds of things that change as you...

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as you walk around this object, aren't there?

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You can experience it in lots of different ways.

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As I turn this corner, I have a completely other experience.

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ANISH: The first thing is

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you realise it's a much longer object than you thought.

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So it's become bigger.

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ALAN: That journey took rather longer than I expected.

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ANISH: Yeah. But, also, it's little things,

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but the light's different there than it is here.

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- And the sound's different. - The sound's different.

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It's like the lens on the camera, where light crosses.

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I suggest that that's a kind of mystical moment,

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where things are different.

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They're different there than they are here.

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'The work is not bound by the studio walls.

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'In a shipyard in Holland,

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'one of the largest pieces in the exhibition is being assembled.

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'Made from Corten Steel,

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'Anish Kapoor is seeing it for the first time.'

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The first thing is, you know, does it work?

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Does it do what I set out to do?

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You know, I believe it does.

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These guys are great shipbuilders

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and, more important than anything else,

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they can hold these complex curves,

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hold to a particular geometry and have it be accurate.

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I must say, they've done a fantastic job.

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The issue I'm trying to deal with at the moment is how the object...

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how the skin of it is.

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Are we going to keep it black,

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or am I going to rust it?

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It's a hard decision.

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Sculpture, of course,

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is supposedly all about material,

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but material's a subtle thing.

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It makes a huge difference. So I want to go and see what's going on there.

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That's a little bit of a problem for me.

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'In order to choose the right finish,

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'he asks for some of the metal to be rusted,

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'so he can compare the two surfaces.

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'It requires a chemical to accelerate the process.'

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Can we get some in the next two hours?

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- We'll try. I will make a call. - OK!

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Really, I'd like to do this whole section.

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- Whole section? - Uh-huh.

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- We need a lot of it. - Yes.

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We need a lot more.

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There is a contradiction,

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because the material isn't made to go black,

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- the material is made to rust! - That's right.

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ANISH: There's something about its sort of muteness...

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..black, that I quite like.

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Fucking hard decision.

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'The installation begins at the Royal Academy,

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'and having decided on a finish,

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'the steelwork is reassembled in the central gallery.

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It's the biggest thing I've ever done in my career

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and I've been here for nine years, so...

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And I think, actually,

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it's been the biggest thing that the RA's ever had to handle, it seems,

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in terms of an installation.

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The logistics of getting it into the building are huge.

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I mean, we've got so many restrictions on size,

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and the dimensions of our lift.

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Getting the pieces actually into the building

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has been enormously difficult.

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It's definitely a huge, exciting thing to be involved in.

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ANISH: This kind of steel

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doesn't do black very well,

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so I...

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let it do what it does do well.

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There's a lot to do,

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a hell of a lot to do.

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A slight feeling of panic,

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but we'll get there.

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I think one has to have those two things in a certain balance -

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certainty,

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and, erm...

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a sense that...erm,

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you know, something is on a kind of edge.

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My father was a hydrographer in the Navy,

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so he was moved to a place called Dehradun,

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which is in north India,

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foothills of the Himalayas -

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at the time, an incredibly beautiful valley.

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But in the sticks. Out there.

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My brother and I went to the Doon School,

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which was a rather...

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how can I put it?

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- The Eton of India? - Indeed, a rather posh school.

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We were a bit different.

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In a way, we probably cherished that differentness.

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Were you interested in art as a child,

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and where did that come from?

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My parents were both extremely cosmopolitan.

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Music and art played a big role in our family.

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But I never imagined for one second that I would be an artist.

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I mean, it didn't even occur to me.

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My mother, you know, dabbled in fashion,

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and did some painting,

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but she could never finish anything,

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so I would always finish them for her, which I loved doing, too.

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I loved making things and I did that all through my childhood.

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Guns, it was bombs,

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it was all the stuff boys do, you know.

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'His mother was an Iraqi Jew,

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'and Anish, aged 17, went to work on a kibbutz with his brother

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'in the relatively young state of Israel.'

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So two young teenagers emigrate to Israel without their parents.

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And I suppose the Israeli government were recruiting,

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- I suppose, immigrants... - Yeah, they paid for us to go there,

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and we arrived - somewhat bewildered, I've got to say,

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more than somewhat bewildered -

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and went to a kibbutz.

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A beautiful kibbutz, Gan Shmuel.

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The context was that somewhere amongst the youth,

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this kind of communal living mattered

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and that we were going to make a new world in some way or the other,

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and as a naive 17-year-old, it was fabulous.

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'After three years in Israel,

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'he hitchhiked across Europe

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'and enrolled at Hornsey College in London to study art.'

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That, for me, was just a total sense of liberation.

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I felt like it was a true coming-home.

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It's the first time I was doing something that I truly loved.

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And I slowly started trying to see,

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what does it mean to be an artist? I never called myself an artist.

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I felt it was too big a responsibility.

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I didn't...

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In other words, it felt like a serious thing to me,

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really serious thing.

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I was massively over-sincere about it, I'm sure,

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but nonetheless, I'd never called myself an artist.

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I worked all the time that God gave,

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and I'd use anything.

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Plaster, which was cheap.

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I remember, many occasions

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I'd sweep the dust up from the corner of the studio and use it.

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I was beginning to be aware that, actually,

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my context was slightly different.

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I'd schooled myself in Western art.

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I didn't feel I wanted to be an Indian artist,

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I didn't quite know what it was going to be.

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'But it was a return visit to India

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'which provided the catalyst

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'that would lead him to early success.'

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ANISH: I made a trip in '79

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and, suddenly, many of the things that I'd been working with

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felt as if...

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"I know what that's about.

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"That's where it comes from," or, "That's how it relates."

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In Indian religion, there's so many parts of Indian life,

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that somehow I said, "Ah, I recognise that,

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"I know what that's about."

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And I came back, I started making objects with pigment.

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Very simple abstract forms.

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I always felt that, somewhere there,

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these things had a voice.

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It's the first time I had that feeling -

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"I don't have to go out and sell them.

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"It'll happen. Something will happen."

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I felt with great certainty,

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perhaps naively,

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but I was hugely certain about it.

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When I first got written about,

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or known as a young artist,

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people would often write of my work

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as if it was made by a female artist. To me, I loved that!

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- I loved that sense. - Yes, yes.

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There is a very feminine side to you.

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That kind of fragile thing.

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I hope that's what it is - I don't know!

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JULIA PEYTON-JONES: Anish's early work, the pieces made of powder,

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with those very extraordinary exotic shapes,

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drew one to them.

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They were a sort of source of wonder.

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Very, very beautiful.

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Very, very luscious.

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Very sensual.

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Very delicious.

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Those early pieces were unlike anything I'd ever seen.

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Colour in sculpture is fundamentally difficult,

0:20:360:20:39

because sculpture's so much about form, about shape,

0:20:390:20:42

about the turn, the feel, the texture, the weight.

0:20:420:20:45

But perhaps what was characteristic of him was what pigment meant.

0:20:450:20:49

In other words, the stuff of colour,

0:20:490:20:52

pure colour, solid colour.

0:20:520:20:54

That was very, very different

0:20:540:20:56

and very, very intriguing.

0:20:560:20:58

Both material and colour were one thing.

0:20:580:21:01

'I met Kapoor in Brighton,

0:21:070:21:08

'where I was reminded of

0:21:080:21:10

'some of his early pigment works.

0:21:100:21:12

'The same dark colours and familiar shapes,

0:21:120:21:15

'but here on a much larger scale.'

0:21:150:21:17

ALAN: You've called it The Dismemberment Of Jeanne d'Arc.

0:21:190:21:23

ANISH: Mmm. One is literally walking in her,

0:21:230:21:26

amongst her, through her...

0:21:260:21:28

through her body.

0:21:280:21:29

Now, I think the implication that the viewer is involved

0:21:290:21:34

is something that's fundamental to sculpture.

0:21:340:21:37

And also the way that one body, one person, responds to another.

0:21:370:21:43

Precisely. It's about those memories that are in there,

0:21:430:21:45

or in there, or in your stomach,

0:21:450:21:47

as much as the ones that are in your head.

0:21:470:21:49

It's as if this body is laid out

0:21:490:21:52

in an almost religious way.

0:21:520:21:55

Something to do with the way that one might go to Santiago de Compostela.

0:21:550:22:01

You know, a kind of pilgrimage,

0:22:010:22:03

the idea of a journey to an object,

0:22:030:22:06

the journey to a place, a site.

0:22:060:22:08

I think that's what sculpture...

0:22:080:22:11

At least, that's the kind of sculpture I'm interested in.

0:22:110:22:13

The colour red is a favoured part of your palette, isn't it? Why red?

0:22:130:22:18

ANISH: Red makes a kind of black,

0:22:180:22:20

makes a kind of black that blue doesn't.

0:22:200:22:23

It's a black that you see when you close your eyes.

0:22:230:22:26

It's something you know intimately,

0:22:260:22:28

and it's that sort of knowing

0:22:280:22:30

that I feel is the real subject of the work.

0:22:300:22:33

- Darkness, sometimes? - Totally. Darkness all the time.

0:22:330:22:37

A lot of his works seem to have a void,

0:22:590:23:02

that you're looking out

0:23:020:23:03

into this space without limit and without boundary

0:23:030:23:05

and you don't know where you exist in relation to that.

0:23:050:23:08

But it never feels like it's empty space,

0:23:080:23:10

it always feels kind of weighted and like there's some life.

0:23:100:23:15

You're struck, I think, with Anish's work,

0:23:170:23:20

is how it engages you

0:23:200:23:23

in a very generous way.

0:23:230:23:24

A lot of the realisation of the work

0:23:260:23:28

is happening through your response to it.

0:23:280:23:30

HOMI BHABHA: One is always on the brink

0:23:330:23:36

of being both inside the work,

0:23:360:23:39

and outside the work.

0:23:390:23:40

You're literally placed in relation to the void,

0:23:410:23:45

on an edge between what you know and what you don't know.

0:23:450:23:49

But you are also on edge

0:23:490:23:52

in the more emotional... affective way.

0:23:520:23:56

He engages not only the eye,

0:23:560:23:58

he engages the nerves,

0:23:580:24:00

he engages the emotions.

0:24:000:24:02

Clearly, there's something about interior.

0:24:040:24:07

I mean, here's a sculptor who produces

0:24:070:24:10

blank, dark interior spaces.

0:24:100:24:12

I mean, Henry Moore and Hepworth both made holes in sculpture,

0:24:120:24:15

but Anish makes space inside sculpture,

0:24:150:24:18

space that can envelop you just as you don't expect it.

0:24:180:24:21

It's as if it's four-dimensional, not just three,

0:24:210:24:25

that he produces time, because time is your time with it.

0:24:250:24:29

And I think somewhere, that idea that time is a continuum

0:24:290:24:33

and an experiential element,

0:24:330:24:35

he finds a way of working that in.

0:24:350:24:38

'A major work to be shown at the Royal Academy

0:24:450:24:48

'has been brought out of storage.'

0:24:480:24:51

That wasn't there before.

0:24:510:24:53

- Yeah. That was there before. - No, it wasn't, I don't believe.

0:24:530:24:56

Yeah. We didn't notice it last time.

0:24:560:24:58

On every join, it's there.

0:24:580:25:00

Doesn't matter whether it was there or not, we've got to get it out.

0:25:000:25:03

Yeah, exactly.

0:25:030:25:05

Whether we have to cut the whole bloody lot out and make a hole in it.

0:25:050:25:07

- We may have to. - The problem is,

0:25:070:25:09

it isn't just there, it's all along the whole of that edge.

0:25:090:25:12

How can we be clear about this? No compromises.

0:25:120:25:16

Please, don't tell me it can't be done, or...

0:25:160:25:18

- I don't do that, you know us. - ..or some other fucking variation.

0:25:180:25:21

When was the last time I told you that?

0:25:210:25:23

Or some other bloody variation on a theme.

0:25:230:25:24

No, it can't, because that's the work, there's nothing to it.

0:25:240:25:27

It's a yellow nothing.

0:25:270:25:29

- Well, it's better than it was... - That's right.

0:25:290:25:32

- ..when it was up in there. - Bollocks!

0:25:320:25:35

'The scale and ambition of Kapoor's work

0:25:400:25:43

'presents great technical challenges.'

0:25:430:25:45

Just wait here until it comes through, buddy.

0:25:460:25:48

RADIO: 'Cross over when you get to the intersection and you want it.'

0:25:480:25:51

ALAN: 'In New Zealand,

0:25:510:25:53

'he's overseeing the installation of a new work

0:25:530:25:56

'that will be built into the landscape.'

0:25:560:25:59

ANISH: Somewhere deep in my heart

0:26:030:26:06

is a Wagnerian will to the grand.

0:26:060:26:10

I think, in the last few years,

0:26:100:26:13

I feel I can handle a bit more of that.

0:26:130:26:15

If that's tight, we can take this chain block off

0:26:170:26:19

and nothing's going to slip.

0:26:190:26:21

One, two, three.

0:26:210:26:23

'Like much of his work, it's designed with the location in mind.

0:26:230:26:28

'In this case, it must be secure enough

0:26:280:26:29

'to withstand the weather conditions of the New Zealand coast.'

0:26:290:26:34

We expect 120 mile an hour winds.

0:26:390:26:43

We'd have the cable wires inside pockets.

0:26:430:26:46

Really, it's a very careful bit of tailoring.

0:26:500:26:53

I guess there's a lot of sail-makers here,

0:26:550:26:58

so this is a specialist sail.

0:26:580:27:01

I mean, what's important to me

0:27:030:27:04

is the way it's all joined together,

0:27:040:27:06

the tension,

0:27:060:27:07

the sense that this thing

0:27:070:27:09

could almost be made out of steel,

0:27:090:27:11

that it's a drum, extremely taut

0:27:110:27:14

and pulled to a very particular form.

0:27:140:27:18

Fundamentally, I think I feel that I make art for myself.

0:27:310:27:35

If it works for me,

0:27:350:27:36

I make the assumption that it'll work for somebody else.

0:27:360:27:40

There is some kind of a moment of recognition

0:27:440:27:47

between what I know

0:27:470:27:50

and what I see.

0:27:500:27:52

And it's the quality and depth of that recognition

0:27:520:27:56

that I think has something to do with the energy and meaning of a work.

0:27:560:28:02

So, the first part of the show here is all about colour.

0:28:120:28:15

So, we'll build it into the wall, so there's no...

0:28:150:28:20

So, you say build it into the wall. So what happens?

0:28:200:28:23

It's not an object in the space,

0:28:230:28:25

but there's a wall all the way around it,

0:28:250:28:28

and it's simply a kind of presence,

0:28:280:28:31

a negative...a negative presence,

0:28:310:28:33

but it's a very deep, deep yellow.

0:28:330:28:37

It's that one.

0:28:370:28:39

And the problem, of course, is to get it matt enough.

0:28:390:28:42

It's a dreamy moment of yellow, I hope.

0:28:420:28:45

ALAN: Did you think of the show in relation to these spaces?

0:28:470:28:50

ANISH: Oh, definitely.

0:28:500:28:52

It's a journey. I want to make a show that is about experience.

0:28:520:28:56

OK.

0:28:560:28:58

We need to either extend this cantilever,

0:29:100:29:13

or something.

0:29:130:29:14

Well, we're on day 23 of the installation.

0:29:170:29:20

Adam's just about to start painting the yellow piece.

0:29:200:29:23

He's been sanding for the last two weeks.

0:29:230:29:26

Have you got them yet, the photographs from Dave?

0:30:280:30:30

'It's when you come down to the nitty-gritty

0:30:300:30:33

'of how things are done,

0:30:330:30:35

'you know, all that stuff,'

0:30:350:30:36

and how not to compromise.

0:30:360:30:38

So that's, I think, the hard stuff.

0:30:380:30:40

The hard bit is how not to compromise.

0:30:400:30:44

And lose the real edge

0:30:440:30:48

in practicalities that now confront us.

0:30:480:30:52

And so I'm...I'm determined

0:30:520:30:56

that that's not going to happen!

0:30:560:30:59

How are you doing, Phil? Are you all right?

0:30:590:31:02

The hard thing on a day like today

0:31:020:31:04

is to find the time to just be quiet, really.

0:31:040:31:06

Which is also necessary. Yeah.

0:31:060:31:09

ALAN: What's your routine as an artist?

0:31:130:31:16

ANISH! I think one has to have the courage to sit in an empty studio

0:31:160:31:19

and wait for something to happen.

0:31:190:31:22

Erm, and work,

0:31:220:31:24

and play, and experiment,

0:31:240:31:27

and try some daft idea out.

0:31:270:31:30

For me, anyway, one has to dare.

0:31:300:31:32

OK, I don't really know what I'm doing,

0:31:320:31:35

but I'm going to go there so wholeheartedly

0:31:350:31:38

that it feels inevitable.

0:31:380:31:40

But perhaps the worst part of that is

0:31:400:31:43

that I won't know what it's like until opening night.

0:31:430:31:47

'As a young artist, it was representing Britain

0:31:490:31:52

'at the Venice Biennale in 1990

0:31:520:31:55

'that raised Kapoor's international profile.'

0:31:550:31:58

ANISH: There, for the first time, was a proper world audience.

0:32:040:32:07

I made a show that I feel pretty good about.

0:32:070:32:10

It had wonderful impact,

0:32:100:32:12

and changed my life, completely.

0:32:120:32:14

Up till then, I think I'd felt that it was me

0:32:140:32:17

kind of trying to tell people what it was I was doing.

0:32:170:32:21

From that moment onwards, it was people telling me what I was doing!

0:32:210:32:25

'The following year,

0:32:270:32:28

'he scooped the ultimate endorsement for a young artist -

0:32:280:32:32

'the prestigious Turner Prize.

0:32:320:32:35

'His exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in 1998

0:32:350:32:38

'crowned his achievements,

0:32:380:32:39

'with a show that captured the imagination of the public.'

0:32:390:32:43

His show at the Hayward remains, to this day,

0:32:430:32:46

one of the most popular shows,

0:32:460:32:48

in terms of the attendance of any show in the history of the Hayward.

0:32:480:32:52

And I think this has to do, really, with...

0:32:520:32:54

while it's quite complex work,

0:32:540:32:57

it also has an immediate point of access,

0:32:570:33:01

and it's immediately rewarding.

0:33:010:33:03

'A new series of works are made from concrete.

0:33:080:33:11

'These are a departure not just in style and material,

0:33:120:33:15

'but also because they're made by machine.'

0:33:150:33:18

Divide this in layers, but...

0:33:220:33:24

- If I'm in a cross-section... - If we have...

0:33:240:33:26

The problem is always to have enough space occupied round the edge...

0:33:260:33:30

Yes.

0:33:300:33:32

..so that we don't have to fill all of the middle with stuff.

0:33:320:33:35

So on that plane, we go like that, then we go across there.

0:33:350:33:38

But, in fact, we're building this circular, round edge.

0:33:380:33:42

So let's say we start there, and we're going for that shape.

0:33:420:33:45

Might do a bit of the shape there.

0:33:450:33:47

Then we'll catch up a bit of it over here.

0:33:470:33:51

- Yep. - Then we'll go across there,

0:33:510:33:52

just because it's convenient.

0:33:520:33:54

Catch a bit of it there, catch a bit of it here.

0:33:540:33:57

- Yeah. - Maybe come back here.

0:33:570:34:00

And so on.

0:34:000:34:02

He loves the mistakes. I mean, for example, that big form over there,

0:34:040:34:08

the huge cylindrical silo thing,

0:34:080:34:10

where half of it has kind of collapsed during the process...

0:34:100:34:13

Erm, that was not deliberate.

0:34:130:34:15

That is, in fact, a mistake, but it's a mistake that Anish liked.

0:34:150:34:19

They looked like they've been built

0:34:190:34:21

by some strange kind of mindless termite or animal or something.

0:34:210:34:24

You want to touch them.

0:34:410:34:42

It's like putting the cream

0:34:420:34:43

through one of those squeezy things with cooking.

0:34:430:34:46

But they do make these extraordinarily exotic shapes.

0:34:460:34:50

On the one hand, they're containers.

0:34:500:34:53

On the one hand, they're architectural, they're sexual.

0:34:530:34:57

But they're also scatological.

0:34:570:34:58

And it's, I think,

0:34:580:35:00

the combination of these very different feelings one gets,

0:35:000:35:04

is partly what's so fascinating about it.

0:35:040:35:06

The scale here is not in darkness or depth.

0:35:090:35:12

The scale here is not in colour.

0:35:120:35:15

But the scale lies in

0:35:150:35:19

the way in which they all seem to be

0:35:190:35:23

either miniaturisations

0:35:230:35:26

of something much larger,

0:35:260:35:27

or enlargements of something much smaller.

0:35:270:35:31

'As a young man, Anish Kapoor began a psychoanalysis

0:35:400:35:43

'which would continue for 15 years.'

0:35:430:35:46

When you went into analysis,

0:35:460:35:48

was it a moment of crisis -

0:35:480:35:50

therefore you felt you had to kind of understand yourself better -

0:35:500:35:54

or actually just explore deeper?

0:35:540:35:57

Psychoanalysis helped me to understand

0:35:570:36:00

some of the roots to, erm...

0:36:000:36:04

erm, taking an inner life properly seriously.

0:36:040:36:08

And saying that, erm, you know, it is, after all,

0:36:080:36:13

the thing from which all the rest emerges,

0:36:130:36:17

even though the work doesn't give it biographical space,

0:36:170:36:24

in the same way that perhaps many other artists do.

0:36:240:36:27

- Yes. - It's that curious balance,

0:36:270:36:29

if you like,

0:36:290:36:30

between recognising that, you know,

0:36:300:36:33

without it, there's nothing.

0:36:330:36:35

And, at the same time, it's not on display.

0:36:350:36:38

When an object gets to be in this kind of state,

0:36:410:36:45

it's as if it's unreal.

0:36:450:36:47

The space is difficult to read.

0:36:470:36:49

What's happening, of course,

0:36:490:36:51

is that you don't know how to read the surface,

0:36:510:36:53

cos it's very difficult to know what's going to happen.

0:36:530:36:56

I mean, I have no idea.

0:36:560:36:58

I could easily have done this, and found myself hitting a solid.

0:36:580:37:01

In that sense, the artist,

0:37:010:37:03

making us look with more sort of insight,

0:37:030:37:07

with more curiosity,

0:37:070:37:09

at the world, at ourselves...

0:37:090:37:11

Because, as you say, much of what's going on

0:37:110:37:14

is happening out there, but a lot of it is happening here.

0:37:140:37:17

Precisely. So, is this Alan?

0:37:170:37:19

We don't know. That is one bit, but there's other bits.

0:37:190:37:24

Objects behave in a very similar way, the skin of an object.

0:37:240:37:27

I've often worked with the notion of the skin of an object.

0:37:270:37:30

The skin of an object, erm, tells you about its history,

0:37:300:37:35

about its materiality,

0:37:350:37:37

about its physicalness.

0:37:370:37:39

The skin is often an illusion.

0:37:390:37:42

- It's only a surface. - Precisely.

0:37:420:37:44

People love The Bean

0:38:040:38:05

because they can see themselves in it,

0:38:050:38:08

they can see the city in it.

0:38:080:38:10

It has great optical illusions when you're inside.

0:38:100:38:14

It sort of plays with your mind in all kinds of fun ways.

0:38:160:38:19

A bit like a woman -

0:38:210:38:22

outside, smooth and beautiful,

0:38:220:38:25

inside, complex and, perhaps, deceiving.

0:38:250:38:29

It has a nice, pleasant, I don't know...

0:38:380:38:42

It gives me a pleasant feeling.

0:38:420:38:43

NEW SPEAKER: It's smooth, it's mirror-like.

0:38:450:38:47

It's really round, in all kinds of ways.

0:38:470:38:51

This is a very iconic skyline.

0:38:520:38:55

To see it in the skin of The Bean is, I think, really special.

0:38:550:38:58

NEW SPEAKER: Outside - smooth, round, organic, oval.

0:39:000:39:04

Inside - a kind of wormhole.

0:39:040:39:07

NEW SPEAKER: You see all these different bits and pieces

0:39:080:39:10

of colour coming together,

0:39:100:39:11

reflected by all the people around.

0:39:110:39:14

Kaleidoscopic.

0:39:140:39:16

There's a lot of things that you could say about it.

0:39:160:39:19

The spirit of Chicago has always been our skyline,

0:39:190:39:21

architecture and history.

0:39:210:39:23

The Magic Bean is beautiful.

0:39:230:39:26

We encourage people to touch The Bean.

0:39:280:39:32

In fact, we clean it every day.

0:39:320:39:34

It's part of the budget, to have to clean it.

0:39:340:39:38

People love to take their picture with their hand on it.

0:39:380:39:41

It's hard to conceive that this object could land here in the park

0:39:410:39:47

and people just don't understand how it happened

0:39:470:39:51

and how it can be so perfect.

0:39:510:39:53

So the idea was to build these 168 individual pieces

0:39:530:39:56

and you couldn't even stick a pin between the two adjoining plates

0:39:560:40:01

but when you start welding it,

0:40:010:40:03

this was an exacting science.

0:40:030:40:05

If there was any imperfection at all,

0:40:050:40:08

it would be manifested in the surface, and Anish did not want that.

0:40:080:40:11

We had no idea what it would cost.

0:40:110:40:13

Our first thought was maybe 3 million.

0:40:130:40:17

The budget was 9 million, it cost 23 million.

0:40:170:40:20

RICHARD DALEY: I'm glad they took their time,

0:40:270:40:29

I think, anything like that,

0:40:290:40:30

you take your time

0:40:300:40:32

because if you rush it, you don't appreciate it at the end.

0:40:320:40:35

You're trying to do something that's not natural.

0:40:350:40:39

They captured the essence of Chicago,

0:40:420:40:44

that whole skyline represent the whole immigration -

0:40:440:40:49

people who work with their hands,

0:40:490:40:51

architects, engineers who built the beautiful skyline.

0:40:510:40:54

He captured the past, the present, and, of course, the future.

0:40:560:40:59

I think Anish's work is very accessible to the general public

0:41:030:41:05

because it's not based on

0:41:050:41:08

a script that you need to know

0:41:080:41:11

that isn't evident in the work.

0:41:110:41:12

There's a lot of artwork that's about something else,

0:41:120:41:16

or it's making reference to a historical event.

0:41:160:41:19

And Anish's work is very much engaged with perceptual issues.

0:41:190:41:23

Anyone who has eyes can experience it

0:41:230:41:26

and be taken somewhere through their experience of that work.

0:41:260:41:30

I think it's a leap that Anish made

0:41:320:41:34

about getting the spectator fully into the work.

0:41:340:41:37

Scale is a danger for sculpture

0:41:370:41:40

because, go big, and you become monstrous.

0:41:400:41:43

But I think, with Anish's work, there was always something,

0:41:430:41:47

on one hand, kind of extravagant and perhaps libidinous

0:41:470:41:50

that there's always somewhere, maybe, an erotic element.

0:41:500:41:53

Even when he got larger,

0:41:530:41:55

you still felt there could be something

0:41:550:41:58

that was quite close and quite immediate.

0:41:580:42:01

And, therefore, I think his control of scale has been absolutely perfect.

0:42:010:42:05

There's this element of...

0:42:060:42:09

a serious element of the unconscious operating in a lot of this.

0:42:090:42:13

It seems to me that there's no other reason to be an artist.

0:42:140:42:18

You know, if I know what I know and you know what you know

0:42:190:42:22

and I tell you what I know, who cares?

0:42:220:42:25

My instinct is

0:42:260:42:29

that making work is about... um...um...

0:42:290:42:33

daring to go

0:42:330:42:36

to something I don't know,

0:42:360:42:38

and hoping, that in going where I don't know,

0:42:380:42:42

you, the viewer,

0:42:420:42:45

can go where you don't know too.

0:42:450:42:47

There's a kind of psychodrama going on, in a way.

0:42:510:42:53

Machine that's shooting into the other room.

0:42:530:42:56

You know, it's blatantly sexual.

0:42:560:42:59

It's violent.

0:42:590:43:02

It's aggressive.

0:43:020:43:04

It seems to be saying

0:43:040:43:05

that the act of making a mark

0:43:050:43:08

anywhere, in anything, is an act of violence,

0:43:080:43:11

and that there's something about that which is poetic.

0:43:110:43:15

- Wow. - I could try one in reverse.

0:43:230:43:27

Go on. Do it. Do it.

0:43:270:43:29

We've just got to experiment. This is going to take a bit of doing, really.

0:43:290:43:32

What's the doorframe made of?

0:43:430:43:47

I think it's a great work. Dare I say!

0:43:510:43:54

It's a nice way to make a painting.

0:43:540:43:58

Oh, I don't know, I feel good about it, actually.

0:43:580:44:01

It takes me back to a really early work I made

0:44:020:44:06

when I was a student.

0:44:060:44:07

In fact, on some level

0:44:070:44:10

this work goes to the very core

0:44:100:44:12

of anything I've ever done as an artist.

0:44:120:44:15

HE SIGHS

0:44:210:44:23

The anticipation and the relief!

0:44:250:44:27

I don't particularly have anything to say as an artist.

0:44:300:44:33

I don't have some grand message that I want to give you.

0:44:330:44:36

For me, the work,

0:44:360:44:37

it's neither abstract

0:44:370:44:40

nor is it not abstract.

0:44:400:44:41

It sits in between meaning and no meaning.

0:44:410:44:44

Apparently, it's just a form

0:44:440:44:46

and then, well, maybe it's not just a form.

0:44:460:44:49

It looks like, relates to,

0:44:490:44:52

feels like something I know.

0:44:520:44:55

The route to meaning may not be direct.

0:44:550:44:59

That's one route to meaning

0:44:590:45:00

and that's the other route to meaning, if you know what I mean.

0:45:000:45:03

'A block of wax is relentlessly pushed

0:45:200:45:23

'through the archways of the Royal Academy,

0:45:230:45:26

'leaving a trail of debris.

0:45:260:45:28

'It's called Svayambh, which means "self-generated".'

0:45:280:45:33

Is it true, I read somewhere that Konchalovsky's film Runaway Train

0:45:440:45:48

was something which sort of was in your head, with this?

0:45:480:45:51

Definitely.

0:45:510:45:53

The violence of it, first of all.

0:45:530:45:56

This thing going through a snowy landscape,

0:45:560:45:59

collecting stuff, dropping stuff.

0:45:590:46:02

And I'm so there, physically there.

0:46:020:46:07

So, it really, deeply influenced me.

0:46:070:46:10

'Anish Kapoor wanted to create a show about experience.

0:46:240:46:29

'It has been a huge success, but will he leave his mark here

0:46:290:46:33

'when the wax, steel and concrete have been taken away?'

0:46:330:46:37

I think all great works of art

0:46:390:46:41

occupy spaces in between existing categories.

0:46:410:46:44

You can look at some of Anish's mirrored pieces, say,

0:46:440:46:48

and say, "What's the difference

0:46:480:46:49

"between looking at a fun-house mirror and this work?"

0:46:490:46:53

And I think an artist like Anish is very conscious

0:46:530:46:56

of straddling these kinds of boundaries

0:46:560:46:59

between a work that has a popular reference

0:46:590:47:03

but is also very much asking questions

0:47:030:47:07

about how do we distinguish between what's a physical experience

0:47:070:47:10

and a metaphysical experience?

0:47:100:47:12

Of course the public are fascinated by it

0:47:210:47:23

because he speaks about the human condition.

0:47:230:47:26

And it's really what makes great art,

0:47:260:47:29

is that it resonates with us all, it touches something within us.

0:47:290:47:33

It fascinates us.

0:47:330:47:34

We recognise ourselves in objects that he makes.

0:47:340:47:39

And that is an extraordinary achievement.

0:47:390:47:41

The terminology of the spiritual

0:47:520:47:54

is always going to be tricky because what does spiritual mean?

0:47:540:47:57

We don't really know what it means.

0:47:570:47:59

But if we think of there being a dimension away from the rational

0:47:590:48:03

and towards the emotional or the emotive,

0:48:030:48:05

then I think we can at least track that edge of experience.

0:48:050:48:09

You may or may not immediately feel emotional about it,

0:48:140:48:18

'but you feel it's powerful in its effect on you.

0:48:180:48:22

You can't get away from it.

0:48:220:48:24

Unless you're going to back off, you have to confront it,

0:48:240:48:27

you are forced to feel something.

0:48:270:48:29

ANISH: Just as you can't make something beautiful,

0:48:410:48:44

or set out to,

0:48:440:48:47

you also can't set out to make something spiritual.

0:48:470:48:50

What you can do

0:48:500:48:52

is recognise that it may be there.

0:48:520:48:56

It normally has to do

0:48:570:48:59

with not having too much to say.

0:48:590:49:02

There seems to be space for the viewer

0:49:040:49:07

and that's something that we sometimes identify

0:49:070:49:10

as being spiritual.

0:49:100:49:12

And it's all about space.

0:49:130:49:15

Anish Kapoor is one of the most influential sculptors of his generation, known for works of staggering complexity and scale. He now faces his biggest challenge yet as the first living British artist to have a solo show occupying the entire Royal Academy gallery. His response is a series of audacious installations.

With exclusive access to his studio, Alan Yentob follows him through a period of intense productivity. Kapoor talks candidly about his childhood in India, his early years as an artist and his creative process.

An insight into one of Britain's most accomplished and popular sculptors.


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