Visiting the Anish Kapoor Untrue Unreal exhibition is an experience that involves, disorientates, impresses and entertains. In the Renaissance environments of Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, until 4 February 2024

With the exhibition on the British sculptor of Indian origin and Iraqi Jew Anish Kapoor, once again Palazzo Strozzi participates directly in the works on display, granting its large rooms and its Renaissance perspectives to the creativity of a contemporary artist (after the one on the Danish Olafur Eliasson (we wrote about it here).

Anish Kapoor Untrue Unreal (until 4 February 2024) is an experience that involves, disorientates, impresses and entertains. It is an exhibition suitable for everyone, not long, indeed the risk is of moving from one work to another, from one room to another, too quickly.

Also out of curiosity to find out what shape will come around the corner. Thus, however, one of the levels of interpretation of the works is lost, that is, their appeal not only to be looked at, but to be perceived with all the senses.

A three-voice dialogue between the works, the building and the visitors

The series of works on display ranges from some historical to more recent ones up to Void Pavillion VII, a new production by Kapoor strong> specifically designed to enter into dialogue with the architecture of the Renaissance courtyard of Palazzo Stozzi and with visitors.

At first glance, this work can be annoying because it is almost intrusive: the free and open space towards the sky of the entrance courtyard is entirely occupied by a foreign presence, a pavilion which presents itself at the same time as a point of departure and landingof the exhibition itinerary.

You can enter the pavilion immediately or wait to visit it at the end of the exhibition, I did this, so my impressions may be completely different from those who visit it immediately.

Yes, because the proposed content is not so much a form, but one or many sensations stimulated by the work. I avoid describing it so as not to influence those who go to see it, but what one gets, I think for everyone, is a sense of irrational alienation, the profound need to make gestures. that cannot be done, the invitation to immerse our gaze towards points that, if we let ourselves go, we can imagine lead to infinity.

Like all the works in the exhibition, Void Pavillion VII we could define it as a meditative experience on space, perspective and time, which upsets the rational geometric structure and the emblematic harmony of Renaissance building like our rational geometric structure of the mind.

Forget about the usual proportions

Accessing the halls of the palace, the exhibition begins on the Piano Nobile with the work Svayambhu (2007), a Sanskrit term that defines what is generated autonomously, equivalent to Christian acheropita images not painted by human hands.

You find yourself in front of a giant block of wax (the color evoked beetroot for me, but everyone will have their own guiding image) that moves independently on tracks between two rooms of Palazzo Strozzi.

The movement is slow, almost imperceptible at first, but capable of capturing attention and triggering curiosity about what can be seen on the other side or even stimulating desire. at the end of the visit, to go back and see how far the work has reached in its journey. In the next room, another work this time with a recognizable shape, but completely out of scale compared to our habits.

Endless Column (1992), an explicit reference to the famous sculpture of the same name by Constantin Brâncuși, is a column in red pigment that seems to go beyond the limits of the floor and the ceiling of the room, creating a sensation of ethereal architectural physicality, a metaphor for the link between earth and cosmos.

Matter and colors stimulate new suggestions

In the following rooms, materials and colours alternate, once again, to which we are unaccustomed or in any case used by Kapoor out of context.

The result is always to make us take a step beyond the usual, even making us lose, for a moment, the sense of comfort. There are, for example, the stimuli given by the use of Vantablack, a highly innovative material capable of absorbing more than 99.9% of visible light and which transforms three-dimensional volumes, questioning the idea itself as a physical and tangible object: Kapoor thus pushes us to question ourselves on the very notion of being, proposing a reflection not only on the objectivity but on the immateriality that permeates our world.

The traditional notion of borders and the dichotomy between subject and object are also proposed in the mirroring works, Vertigo, Mirror and Newborn, which reflect and deform the surrounding space and enlarge, reduce and multiply it, creating, once again, a sensation of unreality.

To conclude, a few words about a room that could be, for some, almost repellent: in fact, the works in which the artist deals with what appears to be a gutted and devastated intimacy have been brought together in an entropic and abject dimension of the body.

Flesh, organic matter, the body and blood, recurring themes in Kapoor's research, are the subject of sculptures and paintings that evoke uterine spaces, visceral masses proposing a sense of movement and continuous transformation, but also a strong tactile sensuality that emerges from the interaction between the sensations of softness and solidity, organicity and linearity.