The Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, is currently featuring an exhibit of “Pisarro’s People.” It’s a fine and interesting show, but to me the summer’s gem is in the Clark’s Stone Center, a small exhibit of extraordinarily beautiful reclaimed and recycled “fashioned cloth” by El Anatsui, a Ghanaian sculptor, captured here on video:
There are three large metal “cloth” sculptures — tapestries, really — that make up the exhibit. This is one of them:
They are dramatic and impressive — but it’s in the closeups, in the details, that the exquisite working and beauty of color really shows:
and closer still:
I spent a long time working my way slowly along these alluring “canvases”, and then ended up spending a long time at home working up a Picasa Web album so that you can get a longer glimpse of some of the amazing artistry that there’s no room for in this post.
But perhaps the most remarkable thing of the show for me was El Anatsui’s credo, which introduces the exhibit:
Amazingly, El Anatsui is not possessive of his art. He does not claim exclusive interpretation. Whatever institution or gallery is showing his work gets to drape and arrange it to suit their own taste, because — and this is how I interpret such an extraordinary attitude — the art work is alive, and the proof of its vitality is the capacity to change and be changed. Just as (I think he would assert) the proof of our own vitality as living beings is the capacity to change and be changed —
And to think that I have always been frightened of change, and resistant to it! This exhibit (in the new pavilion that is Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s first token of his coming reconstruction of the Clark) accomplished something for me even greater than giving me delight in beauty.
It changed me.
If you’re anywhere near Western Massachusetts this summer, until October 16th, please try and get to see El Anatsui’s artwork. It may change you too —-
very impressive work! I like that attitude. Life is one big change, whether we like it or not. Everything is ‘change’ …isn’t that really what ‘time’ is?! I don’t like too much change in my life anymore … except when it comes to web related stuff. I’m always up for trying anything new online.
“Life is one big change, whether we like it or not.”
You got it, Rebekah.
So if we like it — maybe good stuff happens —
That may be the definition of great art – it brings about a shift, a change, within the viewer!
I love that he is not ‘possessive’ of his pieces but allows for interpretation in how they are displayed. wow.
I agree with you about great art bringing about a change, Joss.
And yes, his attitude is definitely a “wow”, in life as well as art!
I like El Anatsui’s artwork and he sounds like an amazing person. Thank you. -Theresa
And thank you for coming by, Theresa!
This is such a beautiful post. I am awed at the detail that has gone into this amazing canvas, reminding me once again that it takes so many small steps in order to make the big leaps. And to accept the changes along the way! (I keep telling myself . . . .thank you for the reminder!)
I am so happy that you enjoyed the post, and El Anatsui’s work.
(There were three “canvases” or tapestries in all; I concentrated only on one, but the two others also were fascinating.)
Great attitude + great artwork + great artist = phenomenal post! Thanks T2T, for a fantastic look at an inspiring artist and his artwork.
And thank YOU for coming by, Cecilia! Always a pleasure 🙂 as is your blog —
Wow – SO impressive that an artist is willing to surrender his/her “vision” (ideal) of what the piece should look like, and allow others to truly, genuinely collaborate. Wow. WOW!
This is absolutely a good lesson for me to ponder…
That’s how I felt about it, a wonderful lesson.
But it could even be something larger (it occurs to me) — maybe it isn’t even so much surrender/willingness, but that that’s part of his original vision, that it will be collaborative. I almost can’t get my mind around that one!
Stef took the word right out of my mouth. WOW! Thanks for sharing. Gem
In that way, also a vision of a different kind of world, maybe!
Thanks for writing, Gemma.