Bass Museum of Art, Miami, United States 11 Apr 2014 - 10 Aug 2014
El Anatsui 'Ozone Layer' , 2010, aluminum and copper wire, 158 x 197 in , Installation at the Akron Art museum, Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo by Andrew McAllister. Courtesy of the Akron Art Museum.
The Bass Museum of Art presents Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations.
Gravity and Grace highlights internationally renowned artist El Anatsui’s most recent work and features twelve monumental metal wall and floor sculptures that are widely considered to represent the apex of his career. In addition, a series of drawings illuminate the artist’s process, while wooden wall reliefs reference his extensive work in other materials and exhibit relationships to the large metal pieces.
Throughout his career, Anatsui has experimented with a variety of media including wood, ceramics and paint. In recent years, he has focused on working with discarded metal materials, for which he is best known today, to create pieces that erase the traditional distinction between painting and sculpture.
Drawing on the artistic and aesthetic traditions of his birthplace in Ghana, his home in Nigeria and various Western art forms and movements, Anatsui’s work merges personal, local and global concerns.
Anatsui’s metal sheet works consist of discarded aluminum bottle tops, seals and labels produced by local distilleries. These objects are bent, twisted and pieced together to be transformed into massive, richly colored and luxuriously textured tapestries.
Anatsui has spoken of how such materials “become loaded—’charged’ is maybe the right word—with a lot of meaning…the various states that they’ve gone through or the various uses that they’ve been put to—this is all written upon them.”
As the exhibition travels, each installation will be slightly different. The artist encourages museum staff to sculpt each metal piece as they install it. These works will therefore be condensed, expanded or reshaped to fit the space and sensibility of each institution.
Gravity and Grace invites visitors to explore the development of works by Anatsui, whose art features a rare combination of beauty, communal process and deep metaphorical and poetic meaning. Just as the work is greater than the sum of its thousands of parts, its meaning transcends the artist’s particular cultural influences to embody something universal.