all that glitters

December 31, 2020

I am a magpie for anything that shimmers and sparkles. El Anatsui‘s large scale wallhangings –– made from thousands of flattened bottles tops woven together with copper wire –– caught my eye immediately. His work combines hints of Ghanaian kente cloth, mosaics, tapestries and paintings by Klimt. Transformation, mass consumption and the environment are all central ideas in his work. At a glance, they look like a painting. I enjoy that surprise, when something looks like one thing from a far, and up close is something quite different. As with most things, Anatsui’s work is so much more intricate and complicated up close. The pieces also transform depending on how they’re displayed. I read on the Tate’s website (the Tate has an Anastui in its permanent collection) that Anatsui’s work arrives at institutions without instructions because he believes that galleries should be part of the creative process. “I don’t believe in artworks being things that are fixed,” says Anatsui. In a short film for Art Basel, Anatsui encourages young artists to play, and to be daring. “The golden rule is, there are no rules. As an artist your worth is determined by how you can operate without rules.”

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