Aaina Bhargava of Saffronart on Absolut’s latest collaboration with Anish Kapoor and his reinvention of the BOTTLE.
London: Artists and Vodka? Certainly not a surprising association, but one that has constantly been given new meaning for the past 27 years by Sweedish vodka company Absolut. In 1986 Andy Warhol started a long association between Absolut and the arts community by painting their vodka bottle, more recently, this year they have announced Anish Kapoor as the artist who will continue this tradition by creating a unique installation, his interpretation of the absolut bottle. The work is to be made using Kapoor’s trademark engagement of the viewer with space. The creation of the bottle will be made with ‘negative’ space employing a sculpting technique that has commonly been featured in many of Kapoor’s previous works, as well as his use of metals and the colour red. The artist elaborates on this opportunity by stating,
“Absolut has a long history with artists, from Warhol to many of my great colleagues. The idea of somehow encapsulating whatever it is that one does in a single moment….and kind of making it an Absolut Kapoor. It is a strange notion, but one that I felt I could at least go in pursuit of” –Anish Kapoor.”
Kapoor’s bottle will be one of the latest in the collection including the work of countless established contemporary artists such as Rosemarie Trockel and Louise Bourgeiouse who have contrinbuted through their interpretations of the bottle and it’s meaning [See images below].
Closer to home, Indian designer Manish Arora designed a bottle in 2009, and soon after Subodh Gupta (in 2011), Bharti Kher (in 2012), and most recently early this year, author Vikram Seth have all participated in this artistic alliance [see images below].
Collaboration between brands and the arts community is a common enough occurrence. For istance you have internationally renowned artists such as Takashi Murakami and Yayoi Kusama who have both worked with large brands like Louis Vuitton, and more recently you have up coming artists like Thukral and Tagra who designed handbags for the Italian brand Etro. With Absolut you can physically trace this history, starting with Warhol in 1986. Warhol’s legacy is characterized by the genre of Pop Art, through deconstructing this term, it is evident that he essentially fused the worlds of popular culture and art together, making it more accessible or appealing to a wider audience. Often these partnerships are accussed of having commercial overtones, or being marketing gimmicks for both the brands and the arists involved, but ultimately what they achieve is greater recognition for the artist and their works, thus providing audiences with an opportunity to discover what contemporary art is, therefore reaching a wider audience. This focus on the audience and their experience with the work is what makes Anish Kapoor so apt and simultaneously unique as a choice to interpret the Absolut bottle. His works are conceived on the premise of viewers engagement with the space and the artwork – which is this case is the bottle – an object they have probably come across at least a couple of times. The experience of viewing the installation encapsulates not only a very academic notion the engagement of audiences and space, but the mesh of popular culture and art as well which is extremely reflective of and imperative to the contemporary art scene. Anish Kapoor himself reflects on this aspect of how an artwork functions (in relation to the audience) and what it can accomplish,
“Art is really all about transformation; it’s about taking a piece of metal, a lump of clay, a bit of cement, or whatever else and turning it into something that it isn’t. That fundamental transformation is truly mysterious; it is something that is in a way is wondrous. That moment of wonder is something that is deeply attractive and we are instinctively drawn to it, it is as if the work is saying come here, come and be part of this wonder, this thing that is happening. And I feel that intimacy with the viewer is something special, something we have to hold on to.” – Anish Kapoor.
The transformation of the bottle is what we are looking forward to, and have great expectations for.
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