MEXICO CITY — Anish Kapoor’s installations are nearly as big as his out-sided reputation in contemporary art. His first exhibition in Latin America, Arqueología : Biología, at the University Museum of Contemporary Art (MUAC), arrived in 20 shipping containers from Southampton, United Kingdom, to the port of Veracruz. The exhibit has drawn record crowds to MUAC on the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) campus. The Mumbai-born artist, who has lived in the U.K. since the 1970s, is best known in North America for his installation at Chicago’s Millenium Park “Cloud Gate,” colloquially known as “The Bean.”
The current exhibition, curated by Catherine Lampert, remains on display at MUAC until Nov. 27, and now that the crowds have died down, it’s the perfect time to go.
Kapoor, 62, is one of the biggest names in contemporary art today, and as Graciela de la Torre, General Director of MUAC, says, Arqueología : Biología is “an unprecedented and innovative exhibit in the country and region.” Kapoor has made a name for himself with pieces like “Cloud Gate” and “Sky Mirror” at the Rockefeller Center, and “Leviathan” at the Grand Palais in Paris. The exhibit is not intended as a retrospective, but the 22 pieces span of his career from 1980 to 2016. For those only familiar with his monumental public art, the pieces on display at MUAC allow for a more intimate experience.
The introduction to the exhibition describes Kapoor’s works as existing at “the threshold of object and subject.” The textures of the pieces invite both reflection and engagement. Several metallic pieces mirror the viewer’s gaze outward, and engage with the surrounding space. Only staring into the velvety surface of “At The Edge of the World,” the viewer feels enclosed and claustrophobic.
The physical infrastructure of MUAC, which was tested to accommodate the pieces, spread over four rooms. Certain junctures feel crowded, such as the multiple concrete columns of “Ga Gu Ma” bumping up against the giant mirror of “C-Curve.” However, overall the MUAC building’s luminous halls are an excellent venue for Kapoor’s pieces.
Kapoor, born to a Hindu father and a Jewish mother, is known for his advocacy in Europe, and continued that tradition during his visit to Mexico to install the exhibition. He spoke out against “Building H,” an academic building on the UNAM campus that has come under fire for disrupting the view of the Espacio Escultórico sculpture garden adjoining the MUAC. A group of artists and academics has been advocating to move the building.
Arqueología : Biología has it own app, which provides interviews with information about the curators, videos of the mounting process and even interactive games to explore pigment and space, two important elements of Kapoor’s obra. The exhibit is engaging for all ages and on a recent Wednesday afternoon during school vacation, children were busy observing themselves in the massive mirrors of “C-Curve” in Room 2, while teens snapped selfies.
The exhibition runs until Nov. 27 and is open Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Entry to MUAC is 20 pesos on Wednesdays and Sundays and 40 pesos Thursday through Saturday, making it a bargain compared to the museums where Kapoor has displayed in recent years.
More information is available on the MUAC website or by calling +52 (55) 5622 6972.