Sculptor Kapoor unleashes whale-like monster on Paris

Tue May 10, 2011 11:33am EDT
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By Vicky Buffery

PARIS (Reuters) - Entering Anish Kapoor's latest sculpture through a dark, windowless revolving door, visitors experience a momentary blackout before emerging into a womb-like cavity -- warm, oppressive and bathed in red light.

This is "Leviathan" at Paris's Grand Palais, the Mumbai-born British sculptor's first work in France for 30 years, to be unveiled to the public on Wednesday, and an experience one can only imagine is like being swallowed by a whale.

Famed for his critically acclaimed Cloud Gate in Chicago and Sky Mirror in New York, Kapoor is the fourth artist to be invited by the Grand Palais to create the annual Monumenta exhibition in its vast, glass-roofed central nave.

Previous exhibitors at the historic Art Nouveau building, erected for the 1900 World Fair, were Christian Boltanski in 2010, Richard Serra in 2008 and Anselm Kiefer in 2007.

"It's fabulous. It's a challenging space and that's the main motivation for me," Kapoor told Reuters on the sidelines of a preview of the exhibition.

In an interview with British media earlier on Tuesday, Kapoor dedicated his installation to artist Ai Weiwei, calling Ai's arrest and detention by Chinese authorities "barbaric" and urging museums and galleries to close for a day in protest.

Ai, an outspoken critic of China's human rights record, has not been heard of since he was detained at Beijing airport on April 3.

"This takes us back to a Soviet-style time when the voice of artists was seen as dangerous," Kapoor told the BBC.   Continued...

<p>General view of the set-up "Leviathan" by Indian born, British based, artist Anish Kapoor for the Monumenta 2011 event in the nave of the "Grand Palais" in Paris May 9, 2011. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier</p>