Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Review: El Anatsui’s Monumental New Show Is an Act of Justice

By Jason Fargo
Detail of “Earth’s Skin” (2009) at Mr. Anatsui’s show at Haus der Kunst in Munich evokes layers of African history and postcolonial culture through its recycled materials.
MUNICH — I find it so hard to describe them: as vast, undulant tapestries, each one rippling and fluttering like a flag by the seashore? Or as heavy, defensive tessellations of metal, like the plate armor of soldiers in medieval Europe or Japan? As monumental mosaics, as landscapes of metallic bits and bobs? The wall-mounted sculptures of El Anatsui here at the Haus der Kunst cry out for metaphorical comparisons — but no metaphor ever seems enough to sum up these commanding artworks, each intricate enough to leave you gasping. This show’s meticulous arguments about shape, color, medium and scale rebuke the narrowness — and, in some cases, the racism — of many western art museums. [More]