Tate Modern  Turbine Hall
9 October 2002 – 6 April 2003

Anish Kapoor has completed the third in The Unilever Series of commissions for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern.

Anish Kapoor is renowned for his enigmatic sculptural forms that permeate physical and psychological space. Kapoor’s inventiveness and versatility have resulted in works ranging from powdered pigment sculptures and site-specific interventions on wall or floor, to gigantic installations both in and outdoors. Throughout, he has explored what he sees as deep-rooted metaphysical polarities: presence and absence, being and non-being, place and non-place and the solid and the intangible. Expanding upon Minimalist concerns with the body, Kapoor’s work relies on the viewer’s individual associations to transform his spaces, and it is their experiences that ultimately bring the work to life.

This is the first time in The Unilever Series, that an artist has used the entire length of Tate Modern’s massive Turbine Hall, which measures 155m (550ft) long, 23m (75ft) wide and 35m (115 ft) high. Marsyas comprises three steel rings joined by a single span of PVC membrane. Two are positioned vertically, at each end of the space, while a third is suspended parallel with the Turbine Hall bridge. Seemingly wedged into place, the geometry generated by these three rigid steel structures determines the sculpture’s overall form, a shift from vertical to horizontal and back to vertical again.

Kapoor began the project in January 2002. Commenting on the commission Kapoor says, ‘The Turbine Hall at Tate Modern is an enormously difficult space, the great problem is that it demands verticality. This is contrary to every notion about sculpture that I’ve ever engendered in my work. So I felt that the only way to deal with the vertical is to deal with the full horizontal.’

The PVC membrane that spans the Turbine Hall has a fleshy quality, which Kapoor describes as being ‘rather like a flayed skin’. The title refers to Marsyas, the satyr in Greek mythology, who was flayed alive by the god Apollo. The sculpture’s dark red colour suggests something of the bodily. Marsyas immerses the viewer in a monochromomatic field of colour. It is impossible to see the entire sculpture from any one position, rather, it is left to the viewer to imagine the whole.

The project is curated by Donna De Salvo, Senior Curator, Tate Modern. Kapoor has worked closely with Cecil Balmond of Arup to create the work. Unilever’s support, totalling £1.25 million over five years, allows Tate Modern to commission a new large-scale work for the Turbine Hall each year until 2004.

Born in 1954 in Bombay, India, Kapoor was educated at Chelsea School of Art and has lived and worked in London since the early 1970s. He is one of the most influential sculptors of his generation. His work has been exhibited worldwide and is held in numerous private and public collections, including the Tate Collection, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Palacio de Velazquez, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. A full biography is available from the press office.

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