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Indian's work of art sold for Rs 16.75 cr!

July 05, 2008

If Anish Kapoor isn't written of by the Indian media, you can't really blame it because the 54-year-old, for all his celebrity status in the West - where his following is huge - has nothing to show for it back home. But for Kapoor it is London, where he moved when he was 18, that is his home.

It is also where he derives his creative instincts from, though his work, he has always claimed, is an amalgamation of the sensibilities of the East and the West, with an Indian influence that is more than apparent when you go looking for it. But then, any work is open to any interpretation�

The reason why Kapoor hasn't shown in India is because he is so big. Not his status -which is huge too - but his works, giant sculptures wrought from quarried stone, or polished stainless steel, commissions for which clutter his calendar over the next years.

The Mumbai-born, Doon School-educated lad is one of Britain's best-known sculptors working in what has been described as a new international style. They are, on the surface, simply wrought, gently curved, usually monochromatic forms that have a scale that astonishes.

It also provokes strong reactions. Sometimes the surfaces are reflective, mirror-like, creating distortions of the surroundings. They reflect a dual sensibility of space and un-space, which plays out in light and darkness, in matter and anti-matter.

This light play on a giant scale has been at the heart of Kapoor's work ever since the eighties, and would later result in his walking off with the prestigious Turner Prize. Already, this year, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston has run a mid-career survey on the artist.

Kapoor is that fortunate artist who is not limited by geography. His works - and often they are in the public realm, part of the town planning, or a huge project, not some small gallery - have been installed in Gateshead, England, at the Tate Modern in London, on the shore of Lake Lodingen in Norway, at the Millennium Park in Chicago, the Rockefeller Center in New York, and in�well, many other parts of the world.

Attempts to bring Kapoor to India - according to gallerists, there have been several, besides the British Council wanting to mount a major show - have not borne fruit, perhaps because the size and scale of the works is a deterrent, says one curator. And also because with existing commissions, while Kapoor may be able to show here, he may not have any works to sell, which would make the arduous task somewhat futile.

A student of Hornsey College of Art and the Chelsea School of Art Design, Kapoor started off with his Indian roots somewhat more apparent - in the way, for instance, he created mounds of coloured powder around his sculptures and installations, when he showed his early works.

Over a period of time, such influences may have disappeared, but a strong duality remains of body and mind, matter and spirit, which collectors associate with his roots.

Few associate him with drawings, but throughout his career Kapoor has also drawn and painted and worked on etchings. At the recent Sotheby's sale of contemporary art in London, a small work of gouache and ink on paper was sold for Rs 95 lakh.

However, at the same auction, where a small sculpture was bagged for Rs 4.15 crore (Rs 41.5 million), he also received his highest price ever for an Untitled work in alabaster with a double concave (playing once again on the form of duality that he constantly explores) for a record Rs 16.75 crore (Rs 167.5 million).

Whether (or whenever) he shows in India, one thing is sure: Kapoor will not need to move earth and sky for him - it will move for him instead.



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