Anish Kapoor, ‘Strange Attraction (Violet)’, 2015, Phillips

Property of an Important American Collector

From the Catalogue:
A disc of pure, unreflective colour hovers within our space. Created in 2015, Strange Attraction (Violet) is one of the celebrated sculptural works in which Anish Kapoor combines a crisp minimalism with a mastery of his materials in order to create something that both makes reference to a wide tradition of cultures and also introduces a sense of the transcendental, the sublime.

Looking at Strange Attraction (Violet), a number of references can be discerned. For a start, the intensely matte surface absorbs light in a manner that recalls his works created from pure pigment. These in turn are often related to Kapoor’s Indian origins. The pigment markets of Mumbai, say, are evoked in his use of pure colour; yet so too are the works of the great masters of the monochrome, not least Yves Klein. The colour of Strange Attraction (Violet) clearly comes close to the shimmering warmth of Klein’s patented IKB, or International Klein Blue, in which his pigment was suspended in a medium that allowed it to appear pure and untrammeled. Meanwhile, the circular form can be seen to relate to Hindu artefacts and mythology, to the works of the Minimalists, or to the existential imagery pioneered in the post-war years by the Abstract Expressionist painter, Adolph Gottlieb. In Strange Attraction (Violet), then, Kapoor manages to create an incredible cultural superposition: this monochrome circle appears reductive, and yet with his elegant economy of means, he has made reference to a wide range of traditions, artists and ideas.

This is no less apparent in the title, which was selected by Kapoor as a tribute to the famous modern choreographer Stephen Petronio, to whom he originally donated Strange Attraction (Violet) to raise funds for a dance residency. Kapoor was referencing Petronio’s own 2000 dance composition, Strange Attractors, which itself took its title from a term used in Chaos Theory that was first published in 1970 by David Ruelle and Fleure Takens. The relationship between Order and Chaos is one that was explored by Petronio, and which can also be seen to underpin much of Kapoor’s work, which often probes the fundamental dichotomies of existence. The notion of the Strange Attractors is best known through the concept of the butterfly flapping its wings and causing a hurricane—it is a small, regular factor that eventually has a massive impact. In Petronio’s work, this was demonstrated by a pattern of movement being formed by a single dancer that was itself eventually taken in various directions by other members of the troupe, with the original dancer gradually fading out of view, made decreasingly visible by the patterns that he or she had spawned. As a parallel, in Strange Attraction (Violet), Kapoor presents the viewer with a pool of light-drinking calm, a focal point that remains still and quiet, around which the world proliferates in all its chaos. This, then, is a window that allows us to perceive some order in the universe. Indeed, its concave form invites us in, exerting its strange attraction, seducing us with the belief that within its confines is a universe of monochrome order.
Courtesy of Phillips

Sale to Benefit Stephen Petronio Company, New York (donated directly by the artist)
Acquired from the above by the present owner in January 2016

About Anish Kapoor

Turner Prize winner Anish Kapoor creates elegant sculptures that combine simple materials, geometric shape, and organic form. After first establishing his reputation in the 1980s with biomorphic sculptures in limestone and other natural materials, Kapoor began to explore the theme of “the void” in large-scale stone works, some with defined insides and outsides and others that clearly delineate empty spaces. In 2006, he installed Sky Mirror at Rockefeller Center, a 23-ton, three-story stainless steel sculpture that reflected the New York skyline. He described the massive work as a “non-object” because its reflective surface allowed it to disappear.

British-Indian, b. 1954, Mumbai, India, based in London, United Kingdom