This year, the capital's annual art event at the Grand Palais, Monumenta, hosts a suitably monumental exhibit from the legendary British artist, Anish Kapoor.
Each year, Monumenta invites an internationally renowned artist to create a new artwork for the nave of this Parisian monument - last year it was French artist Christian Boltanski's turn and this year, until 23rd June, the guest artist is Mumbai-born, Turner Prize winner Anish Kapoor.
The vast space under the glass and steel turn-of-the-century structure has been invaded by an equally vast inflated sculpture. Kapoor describes the abstract work as a geometric solution to the problem that is a long and high-ceilinged light-filled space of the Grand Palais. The dark, matt, violet rubber sculpture fills the nave with its three arms, echoing the cruciform space of the building, spreading out with its rounded body. The dwarfed visitor, already tiny in this huge setting, is further diminished under the arches of the imposing structure. The inside of the inflatable form is also accessible for the viewer, accepting them into its glowing red uterine space, with the high pressure required to keep the sculpture inflated exerting an oppressive physical force on them. But the inside and outside of the work are two different realities, creating two different environments that don't equate to one another.
Kapoor has titled the work Leviathan, after the biblical monster who guarded the gates of hell. There certainly is a monstrous quality to the piece, in its size, its colour and its latent power, but there is also a softness and fecundity to it it in its full and rounded forms, a fragility in the millimetre-thick membrane that composes the whole work (which but for this is just air), the glowing red of its inside and its somewhat fallopian and uterine form.
In true Kapoor style, Leviathan is a piece that is not simply looked at by the viewer, but rather experienced by the viewer, as the work exerts its influence on them as they walk around it, interact with it, feel it and see it. This is exhibition of monumental proportions, not to be missed.
Have you been yet? What did you think of it?
Monumenta 2011 - Anish Kapoor "Leviathan"
11th May - 23rd June
Open everday except Tues, 10am-7pm (midnight Thurs and Sun)
Avenue Winston Churchill 75008 PARIS
All images coyright Kim Laidlaw Adrey