Anish Kapoor’s latest exhibition invites the sublime to the Palace of Versailles
Anish Kapoor continues his exploration of the sublime by inviting outright controversy and hedonism into the Palace of Versailles. Former residents Sun King Louis XIV and Queen Marie-Antoinette were known for their liberal hedonism and through six works dotted across André Le Nôtre’s colossal, obsessively manicured gardens and in the nearby Salle du Jeu de Paume, Kapoor reveals that which lurks in the Chateau’s centuries-old shadows.
’Versailles’ gardens are like a covering where nature is seen as a perfect sublime object - well it’s not,’ the British-Indian artist told Wallpaper*. ’It’s about politics and power. Louis XIV was very controversial and sexual. And I’m interested in this dialogue, in the juxtaposition.’
Kapoor explores power and the sublime by uncovering, excavating, what’s hidden. The pieces form a narrative playing with light in works like ’C-Curve’ and ’Sky Mirror,’ and darkness in ’Sectional Body preparing for Monastic Singularity’ and ’Dirty Corner,’ to descent like ’Shooting into the Corner’ and ’Descension’. The artist explains, ’I hope the narrative makes viewers feel uncomfortable at times. I’m not interested in commentary though - I’m not trying to say what things mean…The dialogue between the work and place has to remain speculative and poetic. It’s about how you relate to it.’
Causing nationwide controversy in a country that reveres Gustave Courbet’s explicit painting ’The Origin of the World,’ is ’Dirty Corner.’ Coined ’the queen’s vagina’, Kapoor is most excited about this piece and claims its sexuality is a ’non-subject’ that cuts the rest of the dialogue short. The 10-metre-high sculpture that resembles a giant rusty foxglove, with its highly phallic stem Kapoor says ’looks as though it’s been dug up, discovered by chance, and it’s as if it’s older than Le Nôtre, like a kind of Mother Goddess!’
On a reflective note Kapoor concludes that ’throughout, I’m most interested in the contradiction though, the idea that what you see isn’t quite what you think you see.’