“There is in every madman a misunderstood genius whose idea, shining in his head, frightened people, and for whom delirium was the only solution to the strangulation that life had prepared for him”
How does one define genius? An individual who doesn’t speak the language of the ordinary, someone whose vision defies stereotypes. Who decides the extraordinary? A bunch of book critics...art gallery owners…stuffy academicians! In a society that enshrines the ordinary, how does one understand a person whose vision is beyond the scope of the ordinary? It takes another man of exceptional capability, to appreciate and fathom a genius. A painter who unleashes his soul on the canvas, a scientist who challenges the conventional, the actor who refuses to compromise, musicians who strike an unknown note… Isaac Asimov, Sylvia Plath, Joyce, Kafka, Bach….the examples are far too many.
Stories of individuals who lived a misunderstood, tortured life, battling polarized opinions and dying in penury. Their work discovered and celebrated later – recognition earned posthumously. It took a Salieri to understand Mozart (and Salieri was Mozart’s most bitter rival). Did you know Einstein won the Nobel not for his path-breaking theory of relativity but for his little known photoelectric effect? Why? Because at that point of time it was beyond the comprehension of many – only two fellow scientists Silberstein and Eddington, understood its far-reaching potential. Ironic isn’t it?
I was going to witness the work of a maverick artiste – revered as God by many and labeled pretentious by a few. It is tough to define Anish Kapoor – an architect, a sculptor extraordinaire, an installation artiste. Hailed as one of the most influential sculptors of his generation, he is unfortunately mostly unknown in the country of his origin. I hadn’t heard of him, till he was invited to exhibit some his iconic work in the cities of Mumbai and Delhi.
It takes time to warm up to Mr Kapoor’s works – you don’t start oohing and aahing instantly. Just like the movie “Inception” where you took twenty minutes before you even started grasping Nolan’s world of dreams within dreams. Anish Kapoor dwarfs you with his vision, it’s so expansive. His architecture defies convention – a foot bridge that looks like a bubble, a subway built like a large bulbous organism suddenly breaking into a void, spirals of nothingness. His work transcends architecture, sculpture and art. A void bored into a mountain, sculpture that blends fabrics with steel, a gigantic foghorn sitting on a coastline. Each piece taunts you with its absurdity. He presents his interpretation of universe through his gigantic pieces. His shapes evoke images of the human body. Illusion is central to his work.
His fascination with the void is evident in most of his works, a hole of nothingness with you at its brink – terrifying yet fascinating. A polished stainless steel “S Curve” that almost seems alive! He loves playing with single, solid colours – vivid plashes of yellow, the deep purple that creates an illusion of depth , the vibrant crimson that so defines our culture. His art is typified by the absence of edges – it’s flamboyant, smooth, you have this unbearable urge to touch and feel the texture, caress its smooth lines.
Of what started as a Am I wasting my time here ended with me feeling blessed to have witnessed art this extraordinary. In Kapoor’s words…Earlier it was me trying to tell the world what I’m saying and now it’s other’s clamoring to tell me what my work is telling them!
I don’t think I’ve reached a stage where I can interpret Anish Kapoor. All I can say is, only in letting go do we find our true selves. You never know what hidden gem you’ll unearth. Good, bad or ugly, just embrace it with an open heart.
Our creative genius is the fountainhead of originality. It fires our compulsion to evolve. It inspires us to challenge norms. Creative genius is about flying to new heights on untested wings. It is about the danger of crashing.
~~ Gordon MacKenzie