Anish Kapoor's retrospective at the RA, which closes today, is making the news headlines because of its success, but I thought a load of red candle wax fired out of a canon didn't have the "emotional resonance" advertised. How could it? Kapoor's red was Christmas candle red and matched the RA shop's Christmas gift ideas. However, what do I know? The exhibition was jam-packed when I visited, with a lot of people going cor-wow.
For some emotional engagement, next door there is Wild Things, an exhibition of truly obsessed sculpting geniuses, Gill, Gaudier-Brzeska and Epstein. The show closes with the truly terrifying overpowering Rock Drill by Sir Jacob Epstein (1880 - 1959).
"...the astounding modern reconstruction of Epstein’s terrifying masterpiece Rock Drill of 1913-15, at once the first representation of a robot in art, and one of the first times a found object (a real rock drill) had been incorporated unchanged into any work of art. Those who first saw the statue were shocked by what looked to them like a big, aggressive phallic symbol. But as the Great War took its toll, it became impossible to see the towering mechanical creature as anything other than a symbol of death itself in an industrialised form. For now the robot and his tool looked like a machine gunner indiscriminately mowing down anything that crosses his path."
Look carefully at the torso, and you can see it appears to contain an unborn child.
The Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award
2 weeks ago