I've written before about my love for the Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, who makes vast textile-like hangings out of metal liquor bottle caps and milk tin covers. Last week I had the pleasure of seeing a huge exhibit of his work at the Akron Art Museum and it was spectacular even beyond my expectations.
First the overview: he collects up a bazillion or so bits of metal (originally picked up from the streets where they were discarded by drinkers, now gotten in bulk from the factories without the intervening consumer stage) and wires them together into big sheets.
Sometimes the sheets hang relatively flat; sometimes they billow and bulge away from the wall like poufy drapery.
In fact, Anatsui is known for his practice of letting the local museum staff decide how to hang and display his work. Seen today in Akron, a piece may droop out dramatically from a central pivot; seen next year in Brooklyn, who knows! It may hang flat against the wall or spill out onto the floor.
Some of his pieces are subdued and monochromatic, like these two, facing one another in a dark room:
Others are exuberantly varied in shape, size color and texture:
I'll show you more of the exhibit in subsequent posts, but let me tell you right now: the show ends on Sunday. If you're anywhere within a reasonable distance from Akron, this is a must-see. Don't you really need a little art vacation this week?