El Anatsui exhibit in Brooklyn Heights

El Anatsui is an internationally recognized Ghanaian-born contemporary multi-media artist.

I first saw his (literally) brilliant work last winter at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery and in the recent African textile exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (where his glittering construction “Beyond Earth and Heaven” will be on view only until Sunday, April 5).  El Anatsui was the subject of  a recent excellent profile by Alexi Worth in the New York Times’ Style Magazine, which includes a slideshow of thirteen of his intriguing artworks and the Museum for African Art will present a retrospective of his work as part of its inaugural show next year.

And now there is the “El Anatsui Process and Project” exhibition, which just opened at the BRIC Rotunda Gallery in Brooklyn Heights and will run until May 2. And if that isn’t enough coverage of this ubiquitous artist, there will also be a talk about the exhibition on Wednesday, April 15, at the Brooklyn Historical Society.

I was more excited about seeing this exhibition before I heard from my friend Ann Rosenthal that only his Peak Project installation is included, but the exhibition does offer a rare opportunity to view never-before-seen sketchbooks and a glimpse into the mind of this fascinating artist.

El Anatsui has been exhibiting his work since the 1970s, and since I have only recently discovered him, I’m not an expert, but his early work was influenced by Kente cloth from his native Ghana. The glittering golden wall sculptures that I love are made from bits of discarded metal (aluminum liquor bottle caps, gold foil wine bottle wrappers, tin can lids, old printing plates) that are cut, sorted, and sewn together so they shimmer and undulate on the wall as if they were made of cloth.

I consider him a brilliant textile artist, but these are works that can’t be categorized or described easily, so if you can, see them yourself at the venues mentioned above.

2 Responses

  1. Thanks for posting about this! It actually tempts me to come to NY. Something about that work seems really appealing – and like so much is lost in just looking at a photograph.

    Interesting that they’re filming a documentary on El Anatsui – I’ll definitely be able to see that some day!


    • The retrospective of his work at the Museum for African Art will be worth a trip to New York. As you saw, his work is very photogenic but of course it is best seen live. Thank you for commenting.

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