In his wall hangings of sewn-together tops from alcohol bottles and other detritus, most of them made since 2002, El Anatsui has accomplished one of the very few genuine breakthroughs in contemporary art anywhere in the world today. This exhibition at Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, is his first major retrospective. It begins from poststudent work in the 1970s and includes work in a variety of mediums up to the present. Because of some highly problematic display decisions, however, a full sense of the artist’s journey is difficult to discern. The absence of certain well-known works, due to the reluctance of institutional lenders, further disappoints. It is to be hoped that, as the exhibition travels to other venues, these faults will be rectified.

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