Klein/Byars/Kapoor – an exhibition of feelings

I was walking down the stairs in ARoS (Aarhus Museum of Art, Denmark) when, suddenly, KABOOM! Packed as it was on a Sunday, in the middle of a public holiday, the loud noise echoed in a huge range of emotions, from curiosity to fear, in the faces of the visitors. Perplexed, I looked around. Some floors below there was a special exhibition and a crowd was watching what appeared to be a cannon…

The realistic five-meter statue “Boy”, by Australian artist Ron Mueck, was guarding the entrance of that exhibition with a suspicious look. When entering it, a stroll through different interpretations of the world by artists Yves Klein, James Lee Byars and Anish Kapoor sent the visitors right into their minds.

Klein Blue was named after Yves Klein’s artwork, which focused on this singular and strong pigment. The monochrome artwork in his room reminded of the sea and its mystic inhabitants, the mermaids, by looking at “Anthropométrie bleue sans titre” – a canvas where two women imprinted their bodies covered in paint. Blue sand in the floor and blue branches of trees contributed to represent another cosmic and peaceful dimension.

Colourtherapy, the art of changing moods by using colours, was on trend some years ago. After Yves Klein, James Lee Byars changed the mood of the visitors to a darker one. The visit turned more philosophical thanks to the contrast between the black walls and his marble minimalistic sculptures. White colour, symbol of purity and virginity, was the colour of “Concave Figure” – a series of vertical figures that had a suspiciously human resemblance. Whether they resembled men -or men’s members- , that was left for the visitors to think.

Anish Kapoor’s pieces broke with the suggestive and quiet atmosphere of the previous rooms. All his blood-red sculptures emanated a raw and visceral feeling and two giant wax curvy blocks, modelled into shape by using a metal structure, appeared to melt in contact with the floor. But the disturbing resemblance with human leftovers was yet not as impressive as what was coming next: “Shooting into the corner”.

Every half an hour, a cannon shot a piece of red wax into a clean, immaculate corner of the room. The repeated shootings had left a violently graphic imprint on the white walls. People were gathering in front of the cannon, with children in the front row. A member of the museum staff appeared and loaded the gun. Cameras were lifted over the expectant heads. Impatience faces arose. And then, expectedly but at the same time overwhelming… KABOOM.  The result was the destruction of another piece but the creation of a new one. Life and death and vice versa. No wonder it is a major work of contemporary art – an alteration of shape every 30 minutes makes Kapoor’s “Shooting into a corner” a unique experience.

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