Tuesday, December 14, 2010

El Anatsui at the ROM

A partial view of El Anatsui's sculpture at the ROM

Another must-see exhibit in Toronto is the work of El Anatsui now on at the Royal Ontario Museum. This talented artist creates the most extraordinary wall hangings out of found objects like tin cans and bottle caps. Spanning an entire wall, these hangings shimmer like glistening fabric, creating beauty out of what would otherwise be discarded.

This is the first retrospective of El Anatsui's career which spans four decades. The exhibition includes wood and metal sculptures, ceramics, paintings, prints and drawings. Ghanian-born El Anatsui is internationally renowned and considered one of the most original artists of his generation.

It was a few years back when I first saw a single sculpture of El Anatsui's in a group sculpture show in New York and was astounded by its originality.  I'll never look at a bottle cap in quite the same way again.

Arts reviewer Leah Sandals interviewed El Anatsui for the National Post and posted her interview here.  When I read the interview, I could not stop thinking about one part in which El Anatsui suggested that if an artist works in more than one medium, he/she is flitting around. "If you pick a medium or a process, you (must) stay with it for a long time." But as soon as I walked into the exhibition itself, I saw that he contradicted himself by not only working in bottle-cap sculptures, but also wood sculpture, ceramics, painting, prints and drawings.

The ROM is the first stop for this exhibition before it begins a tour of the USA.

El Anatsui, When I Last Wrote to You about Africa
On until February 27, 2011
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto