Anish Kapoor, Pot for her, 1985

Anish Kapoor, Pot for her, 1985, pigment and mixed media, 169 x 104 x 104 cm. Fotographer Gemeentearchief Arnhem (CC0 1.0 license)

In 1979 reist Anish Kapoor (1954) na een zevenjarige studie in London terug naar zijn geboorteland India. Deze reis leidt tot de serie pigmentsculpturen 1000 Names (1979-1980), waarmee hij in Engeland voor het eerst bekendheid krijgt.[1] In de jaren tachtig en negentig blijft Kapoor experimenteren met pigmentsculpturen in allerlei vormen, maten en kleuren. Deze werken, waaronder Pot for Her (1985), mostly consist of wood or plaster with a monochrome layer of pigment powder. Because of the fragile material, Pot for Her can only be displayed in one of the pavilions. It illustrates Saskia Bos' characterisation of contemporary sculptures as "artificial products that do not adapt to nature."[2]

What is striking about Pot for Her is the oval-shaped opening at the front. This tempts the viewer to look into the sculpture, but it is not possible to see exactly what the dark cavity looks like. The oval shape, which also appears in a number of Kapoor's later sculptures and drawings, may be considered a representation of the female genital. However, Kapoor does not want to make erotic work. He mentions in a 1989 interview that his interest in sexuality relates to the theme of origin,[3] which for Kapoor is fundamental to everything around us. Pot for Her seems metaphorical for human's origin in the womb.

The concept of origin is symbolised by the dark cavity. Kapoor explains: "It's a space of becoming... 'something' that dwells in the presence of the work..."[4] According to Kapoor, the 'space of becoming' also embodies anxiety. When the viewer imagines being locked in this space, the feeling of losing creeps over him or her.[5] Ultimately, Pot for Her is rather a feast for the eyes as opposed to creepy. Thanks to its shape and ultramarine blue colour, the work takes on a poetic or spiritual feel. This is enhanced by the surface that is composed of pigment powder.

[1] L. Cooke, “Mnemic Migrations”, in: Homi K. Bhabha (ed.), exhibition catalogue, Londen (Royal Academy), Londen 2009, p. 163.
[2] S. Bos, “Contouren van Sculptuur”, exhibition catalogue, Arnhem (Sonsbeek 86: internationale beeldententoonstelling), Utrecht 1986, p. 14. 
[3] A. Meer and A. Kapoor, “Anish Kapoor by Ameena Meer”, in: BOMB, Vol. 30 (winter 1990).
[4] C. van Winkel, “On the sublime in the work of Anish Kapoor”, in: Homi K. Bhabha (ed.), exhibitions catalogue, Londen (Royal Academy), Londen 2009, p. 168.
[5] Ibidem.