Anish Kapoor at Galleria Massimo Minini, Brescia
The walls of a great sculptor’s studio are like the walls of a Stone Age cave, like the carved rock of Tassili, Mont Bégo, Val Camonica, those grand sites that swarm with the marks of Prehistory.
Sculptors can sometimes be messier than painters: the latter often have nice worktables, pencils, paper, easels, canvases, stretchers, and paints. Everything has to be neat and tidy, and there are few exceptions. Like Vedova, maybe, who would paint with his body, physically putting his whole self into the canvas.
Sculptors are likely to have a studio full of cement, plaster, lumber and nails, hammers and scalpels, hands smeared with everything from from glue to silicone… they can’t pick up sheets of paper!
And so sometimes, using a nail, a screw, a big carpenter’s pencil, a sculptor will scratch a picture on the wall, to pin down an idea for the next piece that has sprung to mind while working on the current one.
A sculptor’s drawings are authentic, untrammeled, necessary; they aren’t little paper afterthoughts like so much market- driven art. They are necessary steps in the development of a form that has suddenly emerged, like Sigmund Freud’s jottings in the little notebook that sat there quietly waiting for him at night.
Of course, not all sculptors draw on the wall, but the great ones do. A necessary condition, not a sufficient one: all good sculptors draw on the wall, though not all those who draw on the wall are good.
It’s something Kapoor does every day, and his big studio bears the marks of his passage.
Whether they’re scribbles to himself, to capture or remember an idea, or outlines for his assistants to develop on, these simple marks are the most genuine part of his work; they’re the moment when the idea surges up, the direct link between brain, hand, and creation.
Then come the artisans, the forgers, the shapers, the carvers, who apply their skills to the idea traced by the hand of that master artist, guided by his vision and intelligence.
These wall drawings aren’t made for sale, they’re outside the cage of value, of cost. The artist is free to amuse himself, amaze himself, amaze others, stir things up, depict something impossible, something that will never be carried out: a wish, a dream, a need.
The influence of the market comes later; here we’re still at a prehistoric stage, since the story is not yet written, the sculptural product does not yet exist, we’re in Plato’s cave of pure ideas, which the artist helps find a form.
These drawings on the wall show the moment the ideas are born, the place where they take shape, in a fluid state of possibility.
The sculptor makes various empirical attempts, adjusting as he goes, free to draw one image on top of another, just like our long-ago rock-painting ancestors, for whom the function of the mark ended there, it ran its course and ceased to exist. The next drawing could be made right over the previous one, borrowing elements of it if need be.
Kapoor roams around his studio to check, correct and finalize his works, and leaves traces of his passage along the way, drawing his next sculptures on the wall like the fingerprints of a visionary thought.
For Anish Kapoor’s fifth show with our gallery, we are publishing a book of drawings he has sketched on the walls of his studio.
Obviously, the exhibition presents other works, from his classic “mirrors” to paintings and new sculptures.
at Galleria Massimo Minini, Brescia
until 1 April 2017