Sunday, March 10, 2013

El Anatsui at the Brooklyn Museum

My two most recent visits to New York City to meet with my new mentor Marc Handelman, who has his studio in Brooklyn, provided wonderful opportunities to see some great exhibits.

The monumental pieces by El Anatsui at the Brooklyn Museum are fantastic in every way.  Like the Arte Provera artists, he uses found materials like bottle caps, rusted metal, paint can lids, old newspapers, etc to construct these huge tapestry-like sculptural forms.  These simple materials are transformed into poetic statements that read like topographic landscapes that shimmer with gold or silver, and hang with a sense of weight and mass.  Some hang directly from the wall or from the ceiling.  The central installation consisted of delicate lattices of woven metal hung like gigantic drapes or sheets that revealed passersby but intersected the gallery space with curious obfuscations and overlays of textured woven material.  Materiality was key, so despite the monumentality of the artwork, one is very aware of the small bottle caps and wire used to assemble the enumerable pieces that form the massive hangings.  Just as impressive were the paper bag series of self-standing bag pieces, larger than life, like Stonehenge or ancestral monuments for the consumer industry.  The snake-like sculptures that meander along the floor and part way up the wall, were intriguing as well. Here are a few images from the show:


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