Anish Kapoor was born in Mumbai, India in 1954, but has lived and worked in the UK since the 1970s, winning the Turner Prize in 1991, exhibiting his works inside the Grand Palais in Paris in 2011 and designing the Olympic Tower in 2012. Having resided at his studio for the last 20 years, it’s only just had a renovation; and the renovation has been quite a transformative one.
Kapoor’s studio is an old dairy in south London, and Caseyfierro Architects have transformed the whole block on the street into a series of workshops, galleries and studios. The architects Michael Casey and Victoria Fierro have spent the last five years renovating the buildings, trying not to disturb the daily workings of Kapoor.
They have successfully created three large, spacious studios on the ground floor, with the first level floors containing smaller rooms for drawing and painting. Following Kapoor’s brief, each beam in the roof is designed to support a weight of up to three tonnes. With all the I-beams combined, the structure can carry even heavier loads, ensuring large sculptures can be hung easily and safely overhead.
Throughout the total six studios, there are areas of the original old dairy paint, brick, and plasterwork that has been left as it is, as a reminder of the buildings’ history. In some spaces, these original features are highlighted with drawings on the walls made by Kapoor. Kapoor is not only one of the UK’s most famous artists, he is also the only person with exclusive rights to a certain type of black pigment. The pigment, Vantablack is said to be the blackest black ever created, which Kapoor has been using since 2014 – however this year, it was made official that Sir Anish Kapoor (he was recognised in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to visual arts) would be the only artist in the world allowed to use it.
Kapoor described the pigment on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s effectively like a paint, it’s so black you almost can’t see it,” he said. “It has a kind of unreal quality and I’ve always been drawn to rather exotic materials because of what they make you feel.”
NanoSystems, a British company, developed Vantablack which is comprised of a series of microscopic vertical tubes. When light hits Vantablack it becomes trapped, continually deflecting between the vertical tubes, as opposed to reflecting back off. It is the blackest substance known and absorbs 99.96% of light – so let’s hope Kapoor doesn’t get any on those nice new white walls of his!