Artist Anish Kapoor has said the art world must resist the government’s “outrageous” “right-wing agenda” when it comes to teaching children.
At a retrospective of his paintings at Modern Art Oxford, Kapoor hit back at what he sees as the government’s targeting of the arts.
Secondary schools had been due to receive up to £25,000 each per year towards arts education but, despite being an election manifesto promise, schools minister Nick Gibb confirmed in September that there will be no arts premium this year – citing COVID-19 pressures.
Coming after previous cuts made in the last few years, many schools have now dropped arts subjects due to a lack of funds.
Kapoor told Sky News that funding cuts are effectively removing the arts from the core curriculum, which is detrimental to children’s education.
“What are we doing – educating our children to be fodder for the capitalist machine?” he said. “How dare they? How outrageous. It’s a right-wing agenda, but we have to resist with all our energy.”
Since winning the Turner Prize in 1991, Kapoor has become one of Britain’s most prominent contemporary artists – who famously generated headlines with his polarising Olympic Park commission, the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
His latest exhibition is not for the fainthearted. Giant blood red oil paintings presented alongside sculptural guts and trays of blood, taking audiences to a very primal place and conjuring up images of ritual human sacrifice.
“I don’t see it as gory, weirdly, I think it’s opening up what we all carry within us… clearly at one level death is here but – I hope – so is beginning,” he said.
“You know, people may love it or hate it. What can I do? I still have to take that risk with myself.”
While he is more known for his sculptures, Kapoor has always painted.
“I’ve been making paintings for the last 30 years and they’ve always formed a background or been parallel to the sculpture. Of course, it’s a different medium, but one that I’m deeply interested in.
Quoting Picasso, Kapoor said that he too believes “art is war” – and that he hope his most recent works make people feel “bloody uncomfortable!”
Anish Kapoor: Painting is at Modern Art Oxford from 2 October to 13 February