I had the chance to travel to New York City a few weeks ago and one of the things I wanted to do was to go see some art. Of course I went to the MOMA and the Metropolitan Art Museum, which by the way has a few examples of Ethiopian art, including a temporary exhibition of Ethiopian artist Gedewon.
But I specially wanted to see a couple of art exhibitions before they close.
One was Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui at the Brooklyn Museum.
Although I arrived just one hour before the museum closing time, I went straight to the 5th floor to get a glimpse of his art.
El Anatsui has become a celebrity in the art world and honestly he deserves all the praise. The works that form part of this exhibit are huge and although I know he has plenty of assistants who help him create each of the pieces, I suppose it might take a long time to finish each of them.
The core of the show are the big pieces made of mostly metal scraps -like bottle caps- flattened and sewn together with wire to create these kind of quilts that hang from the walls and ceiling. Seen from a distance they resemble shiny fabric but the closer you get, the more you realize how tiny are the parts that form each piece.
From massive and heavy looking pieces, to works that look like made with spider webs, pretty much like see-through floating clouds. The materials have a limited palette, however the end results are incredible.
There were also a few small pieces made of wood extremely beautiful that were made before the monumental pieces. The exhibition also included a showing of the documentary about his life and work.
Maybe I like El Anatsui so much because he uses techniques that resemble mosaic and quilts, things I feel inclined to. This exhibition is one that MUST be seen in person, there is no way any picture can transmit the full scale of these pieces.
A Ghanaian Artist Goes Big - ‘Gravity and Grace,’ by El Anatsui, By KAREN ROSENBERG. NY Times
Susan Vogel’s film Fold Crumple Crush