Works (Tap to zoom)
El Anatsui (b. 1944 Ghana; lives and works in Nigeria) transforms simple materials into complex assemblages that create a distinctive visual impact. His typical material palette includes discarded resources such as liquor bottle caps, printing plates and cassava graters to create sculptures that defy categorization. Anatsui’s choice of these materials reflects his interest in reuse, transformation and an intrinsic desire to connect to his native continent of Africa while transcending the limitations of place. His style combines the world history of abstract art with his local aesthetic traditions. Much of his work interrogates the legacy of colonialism, drawing connections between consumption, waste and the environment, but at the core is his unique formal language that distinguishes his practice.
Anatsui is particularly well-known for his large-scale sculptures composed of thousands of folded and crumpled pieces of metal sourced from local recycling stations and bound together with copper wire. His intricate works are both luminous and weighty, meticulously fabricated yet malleable. One of the conceptual underpinnings of much of the work is that the sculptures takes different forms each time they are installed. In morphing to activate various spaces, they challenge long-held views of sculpture as something rigid and insistent, which opens up his work to exist on its own terms.