Hyde Park is being turned upside down by Anish Kapoor’s latest exibition. Four new sculptures have been put up in Kensington Gardens in Hyde Park for the next six months, with round-the-clock security guards to protect them against people and their grubby fingerprints. The exibition is being put on by the Serpentine Gallery and Royal Parks together and is entirely free; in short it’s the perfect way to spend that spare hour between lectures.
Marcus du Sautoy (Simonyi professor for the public understanding of science at Oxford) described Kapoor as “a modern-day Newton”. Not because he, in common with arguably the greatest scientist ever, really likes mirrors, but because he “[uses] art to give the viewer a glimpse into the depths of the universe”. On that bombshell, which probably says more about du Sautoy than Kapoor, I’d like to point out that this exhibition in Hyde Park is actually just four nice shiny mirrors. What is so nice, in fact, is the lack of need for bullshit ‘interpretations’ of these impressive objects.
What is so nice, in fact, is the lack of need for bullshit ‘interpretations’ of these impressive objects.
To see all four at once with minimal effort I suggest going to the permanent Statue of Physical Energy – the one of the man on a horse. The smaller red circle can then be seen peeping over the slope from Round Pond, and opposite it is the enormous, satellite-dish-like concave mirror. The symmetry is very pleasing, and then to the right and left of the view of the red disc you can see between the trees the shiny bits of sky reflected in the ‘C-curve’ and ‘non-object (spire)’.
All four sculptures are made of highly polished stainless steel. They reflect the park, sky and the people but, being concave (from one side at least…) everything is generally upside down. It’s fun to watch the way the images warp as you move but it’s also actually lovely to see because the open vistas of park and sky are condensed into the beautiful shiny ‘hole’.
The reflections of the sky remind you just how much sky there is visible already in Hyde Park and the sheer shininess of it is very satisfying. Kapoor himself, who says he walks in Hyde Park frequently, was keen to point out how much the sculptures will change with weather and viewer. I went back on a different day and all four really were transformed by the afternoon light and shifting clouds. They are pieces to admire again and again.
Turning the World Upside Down runs until 13 March 2011