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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Flutsch

Anish Kapoor: Painting


Exhibition Review: Anish Kapoor: Painting, until 13 February 2022, Modern Art Oxford. Tickets from £5. Book here. #AnishKapoor

Anish Kapoor is one of the most celebrated artists of his generation.

Kapoor’s daily studio practice during the pandemic, resulted in huge paintings and sculptures that came from his exploration of a place of not knowing. In his colour palette of red, yellow, dark blue, black and white - Kapoor's works have been informed by the ever-present sense of mortality and dread that characterised 2020 and 2021 for us all.

Partial view of the Upper Gallery, and the first room you enter. I took this image with my iPhone at the exhibition.© C.Flutsch

The paintings and sculptures that he has produced during the pandemic bring to life in the most confronting and visceral way our worst fears about our own mortality, our humanness and our fragility. What does it mean to be human – in an organic body?

Another partial view of the Upper Gallery, I took this image with my iPhone at the exhibition. © C.Flutsch

Modern Art Oxford has dedicated its entire space of four galleries – two large and two small - to Kapoor’s works created during 2020 and 2021. The exhibition is made up of 18 huge canvasses and 8 sculptures and installations. They are visceral, cruel, innocent and factual. The works force us to confront our own reality – this is what we are – blood, viscera and organs. But the exhibition asks us to consider whether this is all we are.

Middle Gallery 1. I took this image with my iPhone at the exhibition. © C.Flutsch

For me, the works also forced me to consider our relationship with other organisms and the way we treat them as parts only - to be used for our own convenience and comfort. If this is the way we consider and use other organisms – why should we, as organisms ourselves, expect to be treated any differently?

Partial view of the Piper Gallery. I took this image with my iPhone at the exhibition. © C.Flutsch

This is a very confrontational exhibition and in any other time, I would put a warning that it is not for the squeamish or the faint of heart. However, we have all lived, and are living, through the terror of a pandemic. We know what it is to be afraid. Kapoor’s exhibition confronts this fear and provokes us to answer the question – how can we be more than just flesh and blood?

Another partial view of the Piper Gallery. I took this image with my iPhone at the exhibition. © C.Flutsch.

This exhibition is beautiful and terrible in equal measure – a must see.


Feature image: Anish Kapoor, First and Last, 2020, Oil on canvas, 213cm x 274cm. I took this image with my iPhone, at the exhibition.

If you enjoyed reading this review, you might also enjoy my review of other must see exhibitions, which are on right now including the Ashmolean's Tokyo Art and Photography Exhibition and the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition. My reviews include lots of exclusive photos, so my hope would be that you'd get something from reading them, even once the exhibitions are finished.


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