Stroll into Paris’s Grand Palais and you’ll be plunged into darkness. A few steps later and you will be inside ‘Leviathan’: the recently unveiled piece by British artist Anish Kapoor.
A 35-metre tall structure (the height of 19 men), ‘Leviathan’ is made from PVC stretched over a giant metal frame. Appearing to be a dark purple colour on the outside, as you walk through it, the light flooding in from the exhibition hall’s glass ceiling reveals the true colour to be red.
It’s this year’s ‘Monumenta’ — an annual commission where an internationally renowned artist is presented with the task of creating something to take residence in the Grand Palais’ vast 13,500 sq m hall.
Previous years have seen sculptors Richard Serra and Christian Boltanski rise to the challenge. It also marks Turner Prize-winner Kapoor’s return to the French capital 30 years on from his first exhibition there, and he’s used the occasion to speak out against the Chinese government holding fellow artist Ai Weiwei. The man behind the 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall earlier this year is said to be in an undisclosed location for similarly undisclosed “economic” irregularities.
Anyone would think all this work would have earned Kapoor the time to kick back in his favourite chair. But instead, the artist has accepted a commission to design the key landmark for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
It will dwarf ‘Leviathan’ when it’s completed — standing proud at 116 metres tall. That’s 81 metres higher than the Paris-based work. Not that we’re boasting. OK, just a little.