Tongue no. 2
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
'Tongue no. 2' by Anish Kapoor, who originates from India, consists of five parts. Three of these are placed on the ground, one leans against the wall of the exhibition gallery, and one hangs on the wall. They are made of polystyrene and cement, covered with a thick layer of pigment powder. The object on the wall is half black and half blue; the other objects are all black. The forms are reminiscent of body parts such as a mouth, lips and a tongue, but at the same time they are abstract forms. The objects on the ground have rounded and pointed parts with the points sometimes directed in a vertical and sometimes in a horizontal direction. The object on the wall has ribs which fan out to the bottom with hollows between them. In the object which touches both the wall and the floor, Kapoor combines a spherical and ribbed form.
'Tongue no 2' is full of contradictions. However, he presents them as an inextricable unit. The objects on the floor contrast with the object on the wall because of their position and design, and the fifth object links them by its position in between. The viewer’s gaze is drawn back and forth by the direction of the points: from the bottom up, from left to right and vice versa. The objects point to each other, but also point into the exhibition space. Because of their skin of pigment powder, Kapoor’s objects have a strong material character, but the weight of the volumes cannot be gauged because the material underneath is hidden by the pigment. The idea of the immaterial character created in this way is reinforced by the deep dark colour of the pigment. It absorbs light and therefore counters the effect of shadows which would emphasise the volume.
Kapoor comes from India and in 1973 he went to study art in London. When he visited India in 1979, he became aware that Indian culture had left its traces in his work. The oriental focus on uniting opposites, removing the divisions between the material and spiritual, the natural and supernatural, forms the essence of his work. He said: “One of the things I tried to do in the early pigment works was to achieve something that did not look as though it was made, that seemed self-evident, as though it was there of its own free will.” The forms are at the same time both earthy and immaterial, sensory and serene.
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