El Anatsui

An internationally renowed contemporary artist, Ghanaian-born El Anatsui creates innovative, intricate assemblages that transform discarded materials into visually staggering multi-media works. Anatsui’s sculptures are mutable in form, conceived to be so free and flexible that they can be shaped in any way and altered in appearance for each installation. Working with wood, clay, metal, and—most recently—the discarded metal caps of liquor bottles, Anatsui breaks with sculpture’s traditional adherence to forms of fixed shape while visually referencing the history of abstraction in African and European art. The colorful and densely patterned fields of the works assembled from discarded liquor-bottle caps also trace a broader story of colonial and postcolonial economic and cultural exchange in Africa, told in the history of cast-off materials. The sculptures in wood and ceramics introduce ideas about the function of objects (their destruction, transformation, and regeneration) in everyday life, and the role of language in deciphering visual symbols.

Major exhibitions of El Anatsui's work have appeared at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Rice University Art Gallery, Houston, Venice Biennale, and the Biennale of African Art, Senegal amoung many others.

Courtesy of Art21