Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui was the latest to be featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego last week. The Ghana native’s 11 monumental metal wall and floor sculptures are all made from abandoned materials found in Africa including spirit bottles and condensed milk cans.
Anatsui has said he is inspired by the “huge piles of detritus from consumption” due to West Africa’s limited recycling technology. Cultural, economic, and social issues of colonialism, globalism, waste, and consumerism all factor into his stunning designs.
He collects the aluminum tops, seals and labels and weaves them into elaborate, larger than life, shimmering blankets of color. Up close you can see the rust, dirt and debris in raw form but when you stand back – the tapestries take on a glittering, superior color and shine.
The thousands and thousands of pieces that went into building these beautiful structures is mind puzzling. Gravity and Grace does a fantastic job at taking what seem like small meaningless pieces of trash and uniting them to take on an entirely new personality.