interrogates the history of colonialism and draw connections between consumption, waste, and the environment, but at the core is his unique formal language that distinguishes his practice…
Over a career spanning 40 years, Ghanaian born El Anatsui has drawn connections between consumption, waste, and the environment. He says: "Art grows out of each particular situation, and I believe that artists are better off working with whatever their environment throws up". Anatsui is best known for his “bottle-top installations" which consist of thousands of bottle tops sourced from alcohol recycling stations and sewn together with copper wire to create metallic cloth-like wall sculptures. We will be presenting his ‘Benchmarks’ print series, a close collaboration with Factum Arte. These large scale collages stem directly from Anatsui’s metallic tapestries - the origin of the plates used is the many wooden boards which took the spikes and stress of puncturing the bottle tops used in the vast hangings.
El Anatsui (b. 1944) is one of the most acclaimed international contemporary artists of our time. Throughout a distinguished forty-year career as both sculptor and teacher – he was Professor of Sculpture and Departmental Head at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka – El Anatsui has addressed a vast range of social, political and historical concerns, and embraced an equally diverse range of media and processes. His sculptures have been collected by major international museums, from the British Museum, London to the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the de Young Museum, San Francisco; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Guggenheim, Abu Dhabi; Osaka Foundation of Culture, Osaka; Museum of Modern Art, New York and many other prestigious institutions besides.
His installations have provoked wide international attention in recent years, with institutions and audiences fascinated by these sumptuous, mesmerising works made from thousands of aluminium bottle tops. His use of these materials reflects his interest in reuse, transformation, and an intrinsic desire to connect to his continent while transcending the limitations of place. His work can interrogate the history of colonialism and draw connections between consumption, waste, and the environment, but at the core is his unique formal language that distinguishes his practice.
Among the most recent awards, the artist stands out for the Praemium Imperiale Award for Sculpture, The Japan Art Association, Tokyo, Japan; the Lorenzo il Magnifico Lifetime Achievement Award, XIth Florence Biennale Florence, Italy; the Brandywine Workshop and Archives Lifetime Achievement Award, Philadelphia, USA in 2017. The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement Award, 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy in 2015 and Charles Wollaston Award, 245th Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK in 2013.