I was invited to the opening of Anish Kapoor’s seminal exhibition at Houghton Hall in Norfolk to write a piece for Vogue India. It was an incredible experience, both for what it felt like to be at an exhibition upon the easing of lockdown, and also just to see the works of the genius scultptor and artist that is Anish Kapoor.
It already feels like so long ago. I remember feeling nervous and exhilarated to be out and going to an exhibition. But within such a vast and stunning landscape, it felt safe, distanced, and Houghton Hall is worthy of a visit all on its own. Despite all of its history and old England tradition, Kapoor’s bold art seemed right at home within the spaces.
The Sky Mirror is the piece that got the most press, for obvious reasons. But all of the pieces are worth exploring.
Inside the Stone Hall – busts were removed from pillars and replaced with a new collection of mirrored disks in the most captivating of colours.
We spoke to Curator Mario Codogna to learn more…
You transformed Houghton Hall for Damien Hirst’s exhibition, what made you re-visit the location with Sir Anish Kapoor.
“Houghton Hall is an extraordinary place and each artist interprets it with their particular vision and language. It is a place which invites a dialogue with nature and the manmade, with history and the present. Each time is different, each project and each response is different, but always with an inevitably high intensity.“
What has it felt like to curate an exhibition within a pandemic alongside the easing of locking regulations?
“Houghton Hall was one of the first places in England to reopen after the lockdown. It was great to see the response of the art world and the general public. It confirms that art is an important factor in life, in society, that it is meaningful.“
There was something so calming about attending an exhibition that isn’t oversubscribed and that you can enjoy at your own pace and really take in all of the artworks alongside the atmosphere and landscape. Do you think the smaller capacities that are currently required, could ever be a new normal for art exhibitions?
“One should always try to find a balance between the need for intimacy in the fruition of an art work and the fact that it should also represent a social and collective experience. Not easy, but it should be the goal.“
What is it been like working with Sir Anish Kapoor?
“Great and stimulating and at times very challenging as ever. I have known Anish for 35 years and curated many of his exhibitions. Every time I learn something new from him and every time I discover a new aspect of his work.“
At a time of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the topic of race and representation and lack thereof being so prevalent amongst the arts – why do you think Kapoor’s work has been so successful despite the boundaries placed against people of colour?
“It is a very crucial and (therefore) very complex subject. It is also difficult to read its present (and very necessary) urgency in relation to the past. I think that when Anish started his career the art world and its context were very different. But more importantly I think that his language has a universal character as it is based on the archetypes of the relationship of the body with and against the surrounding reality.”
The Anish Kapoor exhibition runs at Houghton Hall until November 1st 2020. I’ll be revisiting it for sure.