Cannon fire, slow train star in major Kapoor show

Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:47am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A flying pellet of red wax shot from a cannon in one room and a giant, train-sized lump of the same material moving glacially across another -- welcome to the world of Anish Kapoor. London's Royal Academy is staging a retrospective of the Indian-born artist, although at a press preview on Tuesday he rejected the description and pointed out that several of the works in the exhibition were new or recent.

"I wanted a show while I was alive and kicking," he said in a recent interview about the show, a rare honor at an institution that usually recognizes artists when they are dead.

"I want to get it out of the way now."

The largest work is "Svayambh," a 40-tonne block of red wax which runs along rails the length of one side of the Academy's main exhibition space.

It neatly fits through arches dividing five rooms, blocking the visitor's view as it passes, and looks as much like a large loaf of bread as a train.

The wax takes 90 minutes to move from one end of the space to the other, and it does so in complete silence. Random lumps of wax lie on the floor and mark the white walls of the Royal Academy, the third venue where the work has been installed.

In contrast, "Shooting into the Corner" is an ever-changing work where nine-kg pellets of wax are fired from a cannon every few minutes through an archway and on to the wall of a second room, where the material gradually builds up.

The walls and floor are spattered as if by blood in one of Kapoor's more political pieces that examines weaponry and death as well as danger and surprise.   Continued...

<p>British artist Anish Kapoor poses for a photograph with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, September 22, 2009. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>