British Indian-born artist Anish Kapoor has dedicated his biggest-ever sculpture to Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who was detained by Chinese authorities last month. “I, as a colleague, I don’t know him personally…feel that as artists we have a communal voice and it is important that we stick together, that we have a sense of solidarity with each other,” said Mr. Kapoor in an interview with BBC Radio 4 on the eve of the public opening of his new Paris show on Tuesday. Mr. Ai, who in the past has openly criticized China’s establishment for its human rights record, was prevented from boarding a flight in Beijing airport last month and has been out of contact since.
Leviathan, the work Mr. Kapoor chose to dedicate to his Chinese colleague, is an ominous red space made of steel and PVC sheets that fills 13,500 square meters of the Nave in the Grand Palais. It makes up this year’s MONUMENTA exhibition in the French capital and runs until June 23. Mr. Kapoor, one of his generation’s most-highly regarded artists, said he would like the art world to do more in his defense, floating the idea museums and galleries could close for a day. “Perhaps all museums should be closed for a day. Museums and galleries across the world. I think some such campaign needs to form itself,” he said in the interview.
The Turner Prize winner announced the dedication just as curator Roger Buergel, known for helping put on the iconic Documenta art exhibition in 2007, slammed the international art community for failing to speak out strongly enough on Mr. Ai’s disappearance. “I think most of them are glad to be rid of Ai Weiwei,” Mr. Buergel, who invited Mr. Ai to Documenta, said in an interview with Germany’s Spiegel Online. “Young Western artists are producing works that amount to nothing more than footnotes in art history, and then this Chinese artist appears who takes a totally different approach and makes 98 percent of the art world look very, very old.” Mr. Kapoor, whose art world credentials are firmly established, was anything but passive in defending his fellow artist.