Anhang rides the rainbow of his life

Having been thoroughly over-saturated by the whole contemporary art
movement during my two years at John Abbott College in creative arts, I
wasn’t expecting much from the Bill Anhang’s “Riding the Rainbow: New
Dimensions in Spider Culture” exhibition. These days people try to pass
just about anything off as ‘art’ – from toilet stalls to immense canvases
painted in black, everything is game to the contemporary artist. However,
when I walked into Sadie Bronfman’s Liane and Danny Taran Gallery I knew my
skepticism about contemporary art would be thrown out the window upon
further inspection of the exhibit.

This is Bill Anhang’s first retrospective exhibition; it displays more than 140 of his works and projects that have been produced over the past 27 years. His art
incorporates vibrant colours, optical fibres and light-emitting diodes which
are computer programmed to flash on his paintings. Anhang’s works also
include enamel and aluminum based pieces.

One of Anhang’s most elaborate pieces is an installation adorned with 2,500 individually painted ceramic switch plates. After closer examination, you come across some familiar
symbols and characters – the Union Jack, Mickey Mouse, a hockey player in a
Canadiens uniform, a Canadiens jersey, and many more references to the
Montreal hockey team. The switches are placed side by side on a wall and in
the centre of the installation are three globes, each about the size of an
exercise ball.

The first globe has been divided into hundreds of squares
filled in with painted pictures of various animals that roam the air, land
and sea. The second globe is a painted replica of the planet Earth. The
third globe has been split into two and inside of the halves is an
illuminated circle, which blinks various colours of lights. If you look
inside one of the halves of the split globe, you notice the names of various
countries and cities and years in which they experienced turmoil.

One of the most original paintings I’ve seen is his “San Diego Symphony”. It is an
assembly of some of the greatest musicians and composers of our classical
past. Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss, Vivaldi, Chopin and Handel are just a few
of those assembled on a brightly lit stage (literally hundreds of blinking
lights illuminate this painting), which is decorated with more modern
paintings. Brightly coloured, Hindu-patterned inspired blankets adorn the
stage.

The most breathtaking piece is an immense canvas that has been
named “Demographic History of the Canadian People”, in which Anhang combines
some history and present day themes in one painting. The finished product is
a Canadiens’ hockey player skating on an iceberg and the Prime Minister of
Canada transposed on an early settler. When you stand in front of this
canvas, you just can’t help but stare in awe of it. You truly get a sense
of the rich history Canada has.

“Riding the Rainbow” runs until Mar. 2 at Liane and Danny Taran. For more information call 514-739-2301 or visit their website at www.sadiebronfman.org.

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