EL-Anatsui-The State of His Art


El Anatsui, born in 1944 in Anyako, Ghana is world acclaimed as one of
Africa's foremost and influential sculptor. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sculpture and a Postgraduate Diploma in Art Education from the University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. He began teaching at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1975, and has become affiliated with the Nsukka group.
Anatsui's work unfolds like an historic scroll, peering at the present through the windows of the past. It is at
once fresh yet duly informed by ancient wisdoms. His art encompasses all that is truly African past, present and future. Much of Anatsui's early work made use of scorching wood with fire. Before venturing into his current "cloth series" he worked with the concept of fragility through ceramics and created sculptures with a chainsaw and wood.

Since the 1999 Anatsui has woven the debris of consumerist excess into glittering, monumental wall sculptures, which juxtapose the social, political and cultural history of Africa with the stylistic and conceptual idioms of Western art practice. Up to 20 assistants help Anatsui flatten aluminium seals taken from thousands of liquor bottles. They then fold them into strips that are woven together with copper wire, resulting in draping cloth-like pieces that often reach sizes of 30 feet or more. Anatsui's sculptures not only transform common materials and impart new meaning to them, they also continuously progress and undergoing transformations themselves each time they are shown.

Works by El Anatsui can be seen in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY;
The Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC; The British Museum, London and the Pompidou Center, Paris, France, as well as many other institutions. He received an honourable mention at the 44th Venice Biennale. In 2007 El Anatsui exhibited at the 52nd Venice Biennale with a site-specific installation, transforming one of Venice’s most celebrated Gothic landmarks by wrapping the façade of the Palazzo Fortuny in a vast metal cloth.

Art Interview Online Magazine
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