Why has the artist painted scenes of bloodletting, decapitation and a woman with 10,000 breasts? He’s scared to talk about it – but he can explain his fascination with vaginas and the world’s blackest black
At 67, Anish Kapoor, with a knighthood, a Turner prize and a retrospective due at the Venice Biennale next year, appears determined to strip away his own artistic skin. Like Marsyas – the satyr flayed alive by Apollo, whose gory fate Kapoor once commemorated in a 150m-long, 10-storey-high sculpture – the artist is exposing his innards. That’s the only way to describe his latest works. One of the world’s most renowned sculptors is about to go public as, well, a painter. Yet it is the content of the works he’s about to unveil that may disconcert. “They’re very, very violent,” he confesses. “And I just wonder what the hell that has to do with what’s in me. I can’t sit here and psychoanalyse them. I don’t know how to. But I recognise that it’s there.”
The works, about to go on display at Modern Art Oxford, are beautifully painted yet brutal: full of images of bloodletting, decapitation and disembowelling. Kapoor seems to have taught himself to paint the human figure in order to desecrate it. At his London studio, there are stacks of these blood-soaked canvases depicting huge wounded bits of bodies and purple organs spattered on the walls.