I’ve never met anyone quite like Bill Anhang. He is an octogenarian living in Montreal, and has a long and interesting life-story to tell. He moved here from Poland with his parents in the 1940s and was, as he describes it, a typical Polish farm boy. After attending university in Winnipeg, he did his stint as an engineer in Canada and Israel.
Bill had no exposure to art, other than looking at another university student’s collection of drawings. It wasn’t until he took his own children to a demonstration of copper enameling that he was inspired to create works of his own. The pivotal point, it seems, is when a Guru told Bill to be an artist. He felt he had no option but to become an artist, and so he abandoned engineering and began his new life. That was around 1975, and he’s been experimenting with copper, painting, and fibre optics ever since.
The art on Bill’s website doesn’t show at its best, and I imagine it’s a dazzling experience to walk into his space. He hangs his artwork everywhere in Billsville, including the ceiling.
Bill’s art is a collaborative process because it is so complex. He designs an image and hands it over to assistants who help him execute the work. Glen Luckock and Mark Reid have been working with Bill for a long time. They paint the image on board, then Bill drills hundreds of holes into it and wires it with fibre optics. He talks about fractal designs in his work. (I had to look up the meaning of “fractal” and still don’t understand the mathematical explanation.) I can’t imagine anyone but an engineer being able to do this kind of work. He is eccentric, but he is brilliant. This Youtube video gives you a peek into Bill’s world.
Bill has a series of work called “Bill Illuminates Crepin”. Joseph Crepin (1875 – 1945) was a businessman in France, who discovered that he had powers of a divine healer. He produced drawings while in a trance-like state, and believed that he could end World War II by creating 300 paintings. Crepin’s works (directly above) are flat(ish) images, brightly coloured, and covered in paint dots. Bill has always admired Crepin’s work and his series is just as described – it is a fibre optic version of Crepin’s creations.
Another series is called “Bill Illuminates Mandelbrot”. Again, I had to research something else in Billsville. Who or what is a Mandelbrot? Here’s what I learned from Wiki: The Mandelbrot set is a mathematical set of points whose boundary is a distinctive and easily recognizable two-dimensional fractal shape (directly above).The set is named after the mathematician, Benoit Mandelbrot, who studied and popularized it. Oh. I can’t comment on this remarkable piece of information because I don’t understand it, but I do love the images. Perhaps it will make more sense to some of you.
It isn’t possible to talk to Bill about his art without discussing God. Bill’s faith drives his work. He believes that preachers have had their day, and now it’s up to the artists to use whatever tools they can do to convey the message that there is another level of existence. Art is the light of the infinite and Bill is one of its conduits.