Anish Kapoor’s ‘Untrue/Unreal’ Dissolves Dichotomies Through Sculptural Interventions at Palazzo Strozzi


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“Svayambhu” (2007), wax and oil-based paint. All images © Anish Kapoor, courtesy of Palazzo Strozzi, shared with permission

Untrue Unreal exemplifies the questions British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor (previously) has grappled with throughout his career, particularly those surrounding space and perception. On view now at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, the exhibition encompasses new and previously shown works that offer insight into the mainstays and evolution of the artist’s decades-long practice, along with his profound interest in materiality.

Opening the show is “Void Pavilion IV,” a sleek, white cubic structure nestled inside the Renaissance courtyard. Viewers are invited to walk through the stark, geometric form, which functions like a void, plunging them into a quiet, meditative space before venturing into the galleries. Inside are several of Kapoor’s earlier works, including the well-known “Svayambhu.” Sliding between two spaces and leaving gloopy clumps in its wake, the massive brick of red wax explores how architecture shapes materials and the relationship between matter and emptiness. Other works include the primary colored sculptures of “To Reflect an Intimate Part of the Red” and “Angel,” which probe the tension between the earthly and non, along with “Newborn,” a mirrored sphere evocative of the artist’s iconic “Cloud Gate” in downtown Chicago.

Dualities of all kinds—geometric and biomorphic, transience and permanence, concave and convex—characterize Kapoor’s work and emerge in the exhibition title. Considering how boundaries between two distinct objects or concepts dissolve, Kapoor explains about Untrue Unreal:

At this time of ultra-nationalism taking the world over, political fiction poses as the real and is blind to history. The real/unreal–true/untrue game is a trope of our times… I dare say that we have lost touch with human reality and that of our fellow comrades, a hundred million of whom wander the world as refugees. All this in blind ultra-nationalists’ indoctrination. Untrue–Unreal today. The artist’s role, according to me, is to look to the unknown or half-known. I have nothing to say. My truth is to trust in what I don’t know or half know, in this the Untrue/Unreal is a guide.

Untrue Unreal is on view through February 4, 2024. Find more of Kapoor’s work on Instagram.

 

“Void Pavilion VII” (2023)

“Svayambhu” (2007), wax and oil-based paint

Detail of “Svayambhu” (2007), wax and oil-based paint

“Newborn” (2019), stainless steel, 300 x 300 x 300 centimeters

“Angel” (1990), slate and pigment

“To Reflect an Intimate Part of the Red” (1981), mixed media and pigment

“Endless Column” (1992), mixed media

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