States Of Being

El Anatsui

Biography Bibliography Press News

Works (Tap to zoom)


El Anatsui (b. 1944 in Anyako, Ghana; lives and works in Nsukka, Nigeria and Tema, Ghana) 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.


Echoes of Circumstance
20th Street, Jan 11 – Mar 02, 2024
Stressed World
The School, Jun 05 – Dec 03, 2022
Parking On Pavement
The School, Nov 17, 2018 – Mar 02, 2019
The Coffins of Paa Joe and the Pursuit of Happiness
The School, Jun 08, 2017 – Feb 24, 2018
The Coffins of Paa Joe and the Pursuit of Happiness
Jun 08 – Aug 25, 2017
Of A Different Nature
20th Street, Feb 04 – Mar 12, 2016
Five Decades
The School, May 17 – Sep 26, 2015
Status Quo
The School, Jan 31 – Apr 12, 2015
Mise En Scène
The School, Aug 01 – Dec 01, 2014
Trains Of Thought
Oct 18 – Nov 15, 2014
Pot Of Wisdom
20th Street, Dec 14, 2012 – Jan 19, 2013
Zebra Crossing
20th Street, Jan 04 – Feb 02, 2008
20th Street, Jun 29 – Jul 28, 2006