‘Leaning Into the Wind - Andy Goldsworthy’ Profiles the Artist and His Muse

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CHICAGO – The British artist Andy Goldsworthy is a true “outsider” artist, because many of his works are rooted in the grown-and-death cycles of the great outdoors. He is described as a sculptor, photographer and environmentalist, but many of his art creations use materials available in any wooded area, based on a connection to nature combined with a creative soul. This is profiled in the second film about him from the same director, “Leaning Into the Wind - Andy Goldsworthy.”

This is a followup documentary film to “Rivers and Tides - Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time” (2001) by director Thomas Riedelsheimer, who also directs “Leaning Into the Wind.” The director obviously loves his subject, as the film is a valentine to Goldworthy’s methods and completed works. This functions as a study of both how perhaps ancient civilizations invented art, and the collaboration that the artist has using the natural environment as his media. Goldsworthy is a fascinating man as well, mellow as a guru and several times as meditative and philosophy.

The film begins with artist Andy Goldsworthy (referred to as AG for the rest of the review) exploring a new use for manure and clay, which forms a hard surface that a poorer family uses as a floor. He uses this technique in a new installation, which is a dead tree that is preserved forever within that clay, and integrated into a building. This serves to introduce the artist, and his assistant daughter Holly, as he describes his journey and truth.

The Answer My Friend is ‘Leaning Into the Wind - Andy Goldsworthy’
Photo credit: Magnolia Pictures

Most intriguing is the relationship that AG has with the media he uses. Sticks, mud, clay and his own body are integrated into several works of momentary art in the film. For example, he will always take a moment to lie onto a light surface as a rain storm begins, and once satisfied he gets up, leaving a shadow silhouette onto the surface. This is immediately swallowed up by the rain, but is a compelling symbolic piece regarding humankind’s “mark” on the environment.

Another interest that AG has is with the color of autumn leaves. He will wet these leaves and paste them to surfaces, mostly (and ironically) to dead trees, but also to his skin. There is a achingly beautiful moment, intuitively capture by director Riedelsheimer, where AG has both his hands wrapped in the brightest red of fall leaves, and rinses it away in a pond. The leaves float away as if in a dream.

This is fully a meditative piece, with echoes of Terence Malick-like contemplation of earth, wind and sky. AG is creating allegory on our own birth, growth and death cycles, simply by using the natural elements of that process. His occasional forays in to the city are useful as comparison, and his observations of that hustle and bustle are in nice contrast to the soulful quietude of the woods and fields around his home in Scotland. His journey in life has afforded him an advantage of true interaction with his art, and he shares it lovingly with the world in this documentary.

The Eternal Struggle in ‘Leaning Into the Wind - Andy Goldsworthy’
Photo credit: Magnolia Pictures

There is an extended scene of Andy Goldsworthy climbing from tree-to-tree in a grove, over bare and gnarly branches emptied by autumn. The struggle of his body as he maneuvers through the limbs is almost heart-aching (and he revealed he injured himself). This struggle of man and nature is ongoing, and we know which side eventually wins.

“Leaning Into the Wind - Andy Goldsworthy” continues its limited release at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago through April 5th, 2018. Click here for details. See local listings for other theaters and show times. Featuring Andy Goldsworthy. Directed by Thomas Riedelsheimer. Rated “PG

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2018 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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