Internationally celebrated artist Anish Kapoor does not aim to bring messages, only meanings in his new volcanic display of studio work at Modern Art Oxford.

Opening on October 2, 2021, 'Anish Kapoor: Painting' will explore the rarely exhibited paintings that have been an integral part of Kapoor’s practice over the last forty years.

The exhibition offers a rare opportunity to see into the dynamic daily studio practice of Kapoor's work with a display of eruptive and evocative paintings that almost leap out the walls.

The British Indian artist is known for his huge abstract city installations, such as Orbit, a 115 meter tall red spiral sculpture that sits in the London Olympic Park and Chicago's domed mirror sculpture called Cloud Gate. However, Kapoor feels his paintings are the initial vision for his sculptures.

The sculptor last exhibited almost 40 years ago at Modern Art Oxford and he is pleased to be making a return with unseen studio work from the past five years, which he now feels has finally found its own voice.

He said: “My practice generally has been to make sculpture; I am a sculptor. But this show is a show of paintings made over the last five years.

"I have always had a parallel practice of painting, I am a sculptor and I have always made paintings. Only very rarely do I show my paintings. I feel now that perhaps these paintings are ready, sometimes it takes a long time.

"I have been making paintings for maybe 30 or 40 years and sometimes one must wait that long for a body of work to find its own real voice."

Although this exhibition is a world away from his city installations his textured paintings sit in a void between painting and sculpture.

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13 November 2020, Oil on canvas

Kapoor said: “The work I have made over the years has always hovered between sculpture and painting. Even the sculpture has painterly qualities, it sits between two dimensionality and three dimensionality. Even though they are fully three-dimensional objects, fully in the round they will often have a very dark interior or a very shiny interior. This can confuse the physicalness of the object and its apparent presence in the world and the space.”

The artist describes his paintings as 'ritualistic' and 'eruptive', but he is very clear he does not intend to bring any 'messages' in his work but says he wants to bring 'meanings'.

He said: “I do not feel that it is an artist’s role to give messages, that is for somebody else to do."

He added: “I hope my paintings are evocative in the way a poem might be evocative, rather than a narrative telling a story."

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After a long career in the art world, Kapoor reflects on the difficulties artists who are just starting out face. But he does not want anyone to give up on their ambitions.

Kapoor said: “It is very hard for young artists to start out. At the simplest level, it used to be that in our big cities such as Oxford, London and many others that it was possible to get a room or two, or a studio, but you can’t do it anymore. Young artists have to really struggle it is so ridiculously expensive."

He explained that every space is being redeveloped into flats. Kapoor's original studio space was just south of Tower Bridge in London, where many other artists also started. However, now the area has been taken over and developed into apartment buildings.

Kapoor, who was 'very strongly' against Brexit says that leaving the EU also does not help along with a whole list of obstacles including financial difficulties.

He said: “The art world is a complicated place to navigate, it is so tied into a financial equation, it is so much about money. It is very hard for a young artist to emerge into this world. But do not be discouraged. You have to pursue your inner voice and work at it.

"They will be heard it only takes on person to hear it and that is the only way we know there is not simple route."

Kapoor is thrilled to be returning to Oxford for the opening of his show at the beginning of October.

He said: “I can’t wait to be there it is a wonderful place with a great history of education and the arts.”

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