Anish Kapoor is the artist selected by Catherine Pégard for the summer 2015 exhibition in Versailles. The sculptor’s creations are very diverse, always intriguing, often destabilizing; he will deploy a selection of works, several of which are new, mainly in the gardens, but also for the first time since contemporary artists are invited to exhibit their work in Versailles, in the historical Jeu de Paume, with a spectacular installation. The French public discovered Anish Kapoor’s gigantic Leviathan at the Grand Palais in 2011, an immense inflatable dark membrane structure, which could be both penetrated and viewed from the outside, creating as much a physical experience as an aesthetic shock for all who were confronted to it.
In Versailles, Kapoor is creating a project completely designed for this historical environment; for him, the entire exhibition must fully reflect all aspects of history. Both Le Nôtre’s genius and the historical events that unfolded in these prestigious sites inspired his creations which will stand in the perspective of the Grand Canal, and also in one of the groves and in the Jeu de Paume. The fascination we can experience before works of Anish Kapoor goes together with a feeling of disturbing strangeness. Kapoor has stated: “I do not want to make sculpture about form – I wish to make sculpture about belief, or about passion, about experience.”
Exhibiting void, insisting on contrasts, experimenting with new materials, while sometimes taking the risk of a certain violence in the result, characterise Kapoor’s sculpture. Attracted to everything that concerns the body, he isinterested in the hidden aspect of objects, in the negative of shape. The viewer is sometimes invited to penetrate within sculptures, which are then similar to architectures, to experience their interiority and to see the surprising spaces hidden from outside revealed. The experience to which the artist aspires can also be interpreted in charged materials such as thick blood-colored wax, evocative of flesh and entrails. Such is the case of Shooting into the Corner, an installation shown in France for the first time. Evocative of reality, without ever being figurative, Kapoor’s sculpture is a “landscape of the body”. The oppositions between the rough and the polished, the full and the void, the mass and the absence of mass are central to his approach.
Kapoor is an artist of monumentality, he has created many extraordinarily striking site specific works, from Chicago to Jerusalem; his approach in Versailles is ambitious and clear, he revives through the chosen sculptures some of the themes which have fed the imagination of the centuries which unfolded here: the magic of ruins, the energy of flowing waters, the symbolic strength of the sun, the secret of the groves, the reflection of mirrors, the conquest of freedom.
Palace of Versailles, June 9 - November 1