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El Anatsui

Artist 236

El Anatsui Abstraction Sculpture El Anatsui (born 1944) is a Ghanaian sculptor who lived in Nigeria for much of his career. He transforms simple, everyday materials into striking large-scale installations. His work raises questions about ethnic identity by combining traditional African techniques and imagery with abstraction. His interest in African craft led him to be associated with the 1970s art movement Nsukka group. His work with sculpture and wood carving started as a hobby to keep alive the traditions he grew up with.

Anatsui uses clay, wood and found objects to create sculptures based on traditional Ghanaian beliefs and other subjects. He has cut wood with chainsaws and blackened it with acetylene torches. After Anatsui's move from Winneba to Nsukka to pursue a career in education at the University of Nigeria, wood became less accessible to him.

This drove him to pursue clay as a medium. His "Broken Pots: Sculpture by El Anatsui" was a series of vessels formed from shards of existing and created pottery. This series was Anatsui's first experiment with using many parts to create a whole, often providing new context or meaning to the pieces he was using. More recently, he has turned to installation art. Some of his works resemble woven cloths such as kente cloth, but are intended as sculptures, not textiles.

These works are made from found objects, usually metal bottle caps which are tied together with wire to create vast sculptures that resemble tapestries. Anatsui incorporates "Adinsubli", a portmanteau of uli, nsibidi, and Adinkra symbols, alongside Ghanaian motifs, into his works. He has drawn particular international attention for his "bottle-top installations".

These installations consist of thousands of aluminum pieces sourced from alcohol recycling stations and sewn together with copper wire, which are then transformed into metallic cloth-like wall sculptures. Such materials, while seemingly stiff and sturdy, are actually free and flexible, which often helps with manipulation when installing his sculptures.

Anatsui’s work breaks away from the traditional cast of sculptural practice to invoke a multi-layered, sensory re-imagining of our material world. El Anatsui speaks on using recycled materials, "I return them to use by giving them a different function -- a higher function -- maybe even the ultimate function. Each bottle-top returning as an object of contemplation has the capacity to reveal to us a more profound understanding of life than it ever did as a stopper [on a bottle]."

On his status as a "community artist": "My resources, materials, and human [labor] are sourced from the community, and I believe that make[s] me a community artist. The ideas I work with, even if sourced from the community, address issues that go from the community to the outside world. They have universal resonance [and] relevance. I believe that makes me not [exclusively] a community artist." Anatsui said that in developing his art he looked for "something that had more relationship to me, as someone growing up in an African country". He wanted to "draw connections between consumption, waste, and the environment".

According to Anatsui, "Art grows out of each particular situation, and I believe that artists are better off working with whatever their environment throws up". #ElAnatsui #Abstraction #Sculpture #recycled #foundobject #artblog #artistoftheday #artistsoninstagram #artresearcher #celebratingart #investigatingart #blog #artist #art #contemporaryart #artistbio #arthistory #artresearch Sources Consulted…/en…/us_56255056e4b02f6a900d59a6/amp


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