Sky mirror

In museum de Pont, a former wool spinning factory in Tilburg, the Netherlands, you find several works of art of the famous artist Anish Kapoor. His work puts what you think you see on a different track. It seems as if he wants to say: do not always believe your eyes. What your brain is thinking, is only part of reality. The artist takes you along on an adventure that influences the observing. However, regarding is not non-committal. It has an effect in you, it sets your thoughts in motion. His work can evoke experiences within you that transcend the purely sensible ones.

Sky mirror

In two adjacent cabinets in the museum, formerly two closets for woolen fabrics, you see, as Kapoor says himself, the emptiness in two different forms. In the first – further empty – cabinet a flat, round form is located on the floor. It is a circle of about 60 cm diameter. However, is it really a flat surface? From close by you realize that what seems to be located on the floor is in reality a dark hollow cavity, deriving its color from the spherically shaped space underneath the floor, which is so dark, that you can no longer perceive the depth.

Your eyes look down into the fathomless sinister depth. ‘Descent into Limbo’, descent into the uncertain, as the title tells us. A black hole as a symbol of an unknown future? Or as a silent void carrying still so many opportunities in it? When approaching the art work you are warned not to come too close to it or to stand on it. You might fall into it. This uncertainty also penetrates the adjacent cabinet. You think you are standing before a locked black door, however, when your eyes adapt to the darkness, you discover ‘behind the door’ a dark, empty space. Kapoor has treated that space with dark blue pigment. When you keep looking and get used to the little light, slowly a blue, freely floating boll looms up which, although visible, yet seems immaterial. The darkness appears to be not just dark. The void shows an unexpected fullness.



And what to think of that enormous free-standing hollow-boll mirror in the museum: ‘Vertigo’, in which you see yourself and the surroundings often upside down and distorted. As a viewer, you are swallowed by a space that has lost its stability.

Your own image in the mirror is life size reflected, walls bend and tilt.

It is not just the eye, but your entire body that is taken up into the art work. Because you do not move, you enter into a relationship with the art work. I see, what I totally do not expect to see. In the front yard of the museum in Tilburg the 6,5 meter high work is located: ‘Sky Mirror’.

The art work is leaning backwards and bends from below upward to above, so that the top has twisted 30 degrees with respect to the base. The front side is mirroring, the back side is rough. The wind influences the sculpture, it moves slightly. In this sky mirror we see floating clouds pass by.

The  ‘Sky Mirrors’ of Kapoor are located in several places around the world. They are huge curved, stainless steel reflective surfaces, all of a different shape.

Turning the World Upside Down’, in Jerusalem, is for instance 5 metres high and is shaped like a minute glass.

‘The Cloud Gate’, the eye catcher in the Millennium Park in Chicago, is 13 metres high and bean-shaped. That is why it is also called ‘The Bean’. The mirroring surface, as a depiction of fluid mercury, shows the skyline of Chicago in the distorted and twisted image, above it the continuously changing clouds. But when walking under the bow of ‘The Bean’, one recognizes one’s own image. Being taken up into the art work is a very intense experience. You participate in what the mirroring sky is showing.

The ‘Sky Mirror’ in Tilburg is very traditional-dutch because of its right-angled form, that looks like the wing of a mill, and also because of the altering cloudy sky which, dependent on the weather, glides over the mirroring wall in an utterly fast pace.

With his sky mirrors, Kapoor brings heaven down to the earth, and the earth upward to the sky. These shining, stainless steel, polished surfaces throw my eyes back on myself. They reflect my world. My thoughts are flying high.

I cannot see my own face, unless I use a mirror. In reflection, I learn about myself. The other one is a mirror for me. Sometimes they know me better than I know myself. I mirror myself in others. The eyes are the mirrors of the soul. They show what seems hidden. Looking each other in the eye, connects. The world is a mirror. It shows the choices that have been made.

I see suffering and damage that mankind causes for itself, and for the animals and nature, and new opportunities awaken that testify of a consciousness that is aimed at a life in harmony with all that is.

As a seeking person I mirror myself in the wisdom words: ‘Born from God’. I carry an unknown world in me, a divine universe, that can unfold itself.

As above, so below. 

The awareness and the recognition of being a whole small universe in itself, a microcosm as states the universal wisdom, makes me look at myself and others in a different way. Life below could deep down be a likeness, a reflection, of what is above. To what extent is this in accordance with what I see around me?

Truly: in how many mirrors am I reflected daily? Always appearing at the right moment.

I am surrounded by them. I am imagining that I walk underneath the bow of ‘The Bean’, looking upward to everything that can be seen in it, lingering at the words of the Lebanese author Mickail Naimy:

Think as if your every thought were to be etched in fire upon the sky for all and everything to see. For so, in truth, it is.

So speak as if the world entire were but a single ear intent on hearing what you say. And so, in truth, it is.

So do as if your every deed were to recoil upon your heads. And so, in truth, it does. [1]


Everything I think, everything we human beings, are thinking, feeling and doing is caught in a huge, mirroring power field. We develop several kinds of clouds, consisting of thoughts and feelings like love and friendship, anger and greed, fear, revenge, jealousy, beauty, compassion.

The clouds of ‘Sky Mirror’ are floating by and disappear, however cloud thoughts are also doing something, they have an effect. They are mirroring back all that I etch in on the firmament.

Thoughts keep lingering. Thoughts of the same kind join together, thus becoming more powerful and mighty. These thought creatures wish to continue their existence. They do not only bounce back what initially came from me, but they also contain, and return, all that has been gathered as power.

In this way, without us wanting it and understanding, a thought can start dominating us.

This causes people to do the most horrific things. However, as Kahlil Gibran (a friend of Mickail Naimy) writes:

And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree, so can also the villain do no harm without the hidden will of all of you. As in a parade, you go up to the divine self together. [2]

I partake in the wickedness of the world. Every thought in me can harass someone else.

Like a boomerang the sky mirror bounces back the consequences of our thoughts. However, not to hinder us. We need mirrors! Do they not bring us the necessary insight into the powers that we unleash ourselves? In order to be able to eventually act differently?

This complicated field of invisible active power, of cloud-like images, is also called ‘the reflection sphere’. The invisible half of this world. Usually this reflection sphere is associated with the area where the deceased are going to, as a temporary domain in which the process of death and re-incarnation takes place.

When I see the mirrors of Kapoor, the thought occurs to me that the reflection sphere is far more wide-ranging than I often realize: it is the reflection of ages and ages of times gone by and of everything that we are thinking now, everything that we are and do in our life.

So it can be dominating me to do the things that I later regret. They are telling me: stand still, look at what happens, stay close to whom you really are in your inner being.



Anish Kapoor was born in Bombay, India, where he was educated at the Doon School in Dehra Dun. In 1972 he emigrated to England and subsequently studied at the Hornsey College of Art and the Chelsea School of Art and Design. He obtained worldwide fame during the Biënnale of Venice in 1990. In 1991 he received the Turner Prize. In the meantime he has become one of the most wanted artists. Nowadays he works in London but he also visits India regularly.

Kapoors work can be found in museums all over the world, among them the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Tate Modern in London, in the collection of the Fondazione Prada in Milano, the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa in Japan, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and Museum de Pont in Tilburg, the Netherlands.



[1] Mikhail Naimy, The Book of Mirdad, 1948

[2] Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, Alfred A. Knopf 1923


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Date: May 30, 2022
Author: Ankie Hettema-Pieterse (Netherlands)
Photo: Anish Kapoor CCO

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