We went to UCLA's Fowler Museum of Cultural History yesterday. They are showing El Anatsui's first solo show on the west coast.
El Anatsui is a genius; he uses castoff things to make a statement about castoff lives. The "kente cloths" are actually made of caps and foil wrappers from liquor bottles. The detritus of wasted lives is used to create replicas of the traditional cloth worn proudly by royalty. The "wastebasket" is made up of printing plates from obituaries for a populace laid waste by AIDS. The artworks themselves are so gorgeous, yet the message behind them is so grim.
Iris and I have been big fans ever since we were mesmerized by another one of his large "Kente cloth" pieces on the second floor of the de Young Museum in San Francisco. We first saw the piece when we went to see The Quilts of Gees Bend, another exhibition of art made from castoffs.
I posted a Flickr slideshow of the exhibition. The Fowler Museum also posted a PhotoTour. Go see this show, if you possibly can.
El Anatsui: GawuWe went yesterday to avoid the crowds today. They are having their monthly kids' art activity from 1-4 pm today followed by a free concert at 4 pm. Admission is free. Parking is $8 at the nearby garage by the Anderson School on the north end of the UCLA campus.
April 22, 2007 to August 26, 2007
"An optically and emotionally stunning show."
Doug Harvey, LA Weekly, July 18, 2007
"A total delight and not to be missed."
Edward Goldman, KCRW's Art Talk, June 26, 2007
"It's hard to think of many found-object artists who have achieved work as intricately made, culturally resonant and visually sumptuous as El Anatsui's."
Raphael Rubinstein, Art in America, May 2006
"An opportunity that shouldn't be missed."
Holly Myers, Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2007