Stay away from Ealing if you’ve got body image issues, because Anish Kapoor has made it bloody impossible to escape your reflection. In the newly refurbed Pitzhanger Manor, architect Sir John Soane’s one-time country pad, Kapoor has built a world of polished metal; a hall of mirrors that twists, turns, distends and flips the viewer. Not a good place to go if you haven’t had your beauty sleep.
The two bright gallery spaces are filled with mirror works; globes, discs, cubes and squares polished to glistening perfection. You, the viewer, are in every single one.
Three along one wall are in gradients of red and green. Your reflection is inverted until you get close enough that it snaps back the right way around. The curves of each disc echo back your words and breathing. It’s totally disorientating, and so overwhelming it almost leaves you with motion sickness.
You get sucked even further into the globe works. There are interior worlds in there, like the world’s fanciest Magic 8 Balls, except instead of ‘signs point to yes’ or ‘so it shall be’ it’s just your own damn face. Terrifying. Kapoor is wringing every visual trick he can out of these reflective surfaces. The end result is halfway between minimalist sculpture, an MC Escher drawing and a circus sideshow.
You can, if you want, read a lot into these shiny works. There are ideas about celestial bodies, the contrast between interiority and exteriority, nods to early Flemish painting; but for me, the pull is physical, experiential. Whatever clever concepts are at play are eclipsed by the way you’re dragged into Kapoor’s works, chewed up and spat out, by how you’re forced to inhabit and complete the art. This isn’t just art about ideas, or the body: this is art about you.