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Julia Friedman A Russian-born, US-educated art historian living in Tokyo. Her academic specialty is modern and contemporary art which she teaches at the Waseda University School of International Liberal Studies.
Anish Kapoor at SCAI THE BATHHOUSE
from Julia Friedman

Anish Kapoor's third solo exhibition at SCAI THE BATHHOUSE gallery amply proves that his small scale works can be just as effective (if not stunning) as his well publicized large scale installations. The five works on view at the SCAI range from an 1979-80 wood and chalk powder installation to last year's concave illusion mirror made of numerous stainless steel parts. Just like the giant site-specific sculpture Memory, shown at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the mirror (Untitled, 2010) engages through more than just vision: as one approaches the object, the acoustic background continues to change relative to the distance and the angle between the sculpture and the viewer's ear. The effect—something akin to sensory disorientation—is enhanced by the multitude of fragmented reflections whose upward/downward direction changes depending on the distance from the work.

A different Untitled, a fiberglass ball is hung exactly 230" above the floor. Appreciating it requires a suspension of disbelief on the part of the viewer, so the ball could be sequentially read as rolling, hanging or falling. This sculpture, as well as another one, a granite andlacquer piece made in collaboration with a Japanese urushi lacquer wareartist, presents Kapoor's trademark vortex shape first tried out in the works from the mid 90s. Only now the vortex is not flush with the gallery wall, so the space behind the smooth lacqueredsurface is revealed as it would be in any sculpture-in-round forcing the viewer to follow the initial experience of being pulled towards the implied gap, with that of discovering spatially finite, graspable quality of the work. The artist's admission to the specificity of the object (as Donald Judd tagged it), offers an alternative to the subliminal quality of Kapoor's larger works: still phenomenological, the works in the SCAI show afford more than a mere fragmented reflection of his awe-inspiring large scale sculptures.


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