Anish Kapoor is an acclaimed British sculptor with roots in India. He was born in India, but has lived in England for many a decades. His works include bright medleys of deeply pigmented colors. The colors are audacious and daring. He uses reds, yellows, burnt oranges, royal blues, maroons. Such colors are deeply rooted in the culture and fabric of his birthplace, India. It is obvious that he was inspired by his roots.
But, his works also include gigantic stark, bold, curved and metallic forms; almost industrial and space-age in nature. These sculptures are a significant departure from his colored works. Such works are indicative of a shift, an evolution, a progression and an expansion in his work.
I have been discussing inspiration at length in my prior blogs and want to make a shift. I do not want to discuss the “standard application” of inspiration for example from a magazine, website or even a book. True, one can get inspired from anything and everything. The creator of Chanel nail varnishes was inspired by the color on a grocery store bag for creating the Mimosa colored nail vernis (yellow). So, when it comes to inspiration anything and everything can be inspiring as long as you have an open mind.
Part of our inspiration comes from our roots. The place of our birth has a genetic predisposition on our thoughts and behavior. That is why you see Anish Kapoor using deeply pigmented mounds of color in his sculptures. The colors and the actual forms of the mounds are deep rooted in the traditions of India. During the festival of colors called Holi, the Indian bazaars are littered with a psychedelic array of optical colors. The bright blues, fuchsias, reds, oranges, yellows are meant to be besmeared on friends and loved ones in joy and celebration (no, it is not barbaric or offensive, but simply pure fun!)
In addition, the spice markets in India are cluttered with heaps of various shades of red hot chili powder, bright yellow turmeric powder and an array of colors. Anish’s sculptures are very reminiscent of the Holi festival and the colorful spice bazaars of India. He was inspired by his roots.
Well that is all very well and good. But, he just did not stop there. He evolved. He did not stagnate. His took his art form not just a notch higher, but did a paradigm shift by creating industrial looking sculptures. In fact, he recently designed espresso cups for my favorite brand of coffee, Illy. As you will note, there is no semblance of color or of Indian origin in the cup. He released his roots, evolved and made an illusory cup for Illy.
In fashion, art or literature, I have often seen a repetition. The original work is unique and inspired. But subsequently there is a repetition. That is why we see some designers repeating their designs season after season, authors writing books on basically the same story line, a sort of déjà vu, if you will. Painters following the same theme, work after work. Directors directing the same plots movie after movie (no pun intended Hangover 2!) Ironically, if the product becomes commercially successful, the chances of evolution are even less likely as nobody wants to forego a true and tried formula for success.
The point is stagnation leads to decay. Especially in creative fields, evolution leads to new ideas. You simply cannot churn out the same old idea and package it with new marketing. Anish is an example of true creativity as he eschewed inspirational roots for evolution.
In my photo, there is a whiff of my colorful roots of India, but I too eschewed my roots by wearing Church’s men’s oxfords with it. It is a step towards evolution and up-rooting.