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El Anatsui: Shard Song

El Anatsui:Shard Song
Private view: Monday 7th March 2022
Public opening: 8th March – 31st May 2022
Efiɛ Gallery
2 Al Khayat Art Avenue
First Al Khail Street
Al Quoz, Dubai

Efiɛ Gallery will launch their new permanent Dubai gallery space in the Al Quoz Creative Zone on Tuesday 8th March 2022, with a major solo exhibition, titled Shard Song, of works from renowned contemporary artist, El Anatsui curated by Mae-Ling Lokko and creatively directed by Aida Muluneh.

Detsi, 2021, El Anatsui, Photo by courtesy of Efiɛ Gallery

The exhibition presents a series of new wooden sculptures that recall Anatsui’s earlier practice in this medium and its continued evolution, complimented by a range of signature bottle cap works. Co-founded by Kobi Mintah, Kwame Mintah, and Ms. Valentina Mintah, Efiɛ Gallery is a contemporary art gallery specialising in the promotion of African artists from within the continent and the diaspora, with a focus on West African art. The gallery represents both mid-career and established artists and supports the sharing of their works in the Middle East, creating a platform for collaboration and exchange between the two regions.

“The term ‘shard’ goes back to the fundamental unit in El Anatsui’s work – the broken fragment of the ceramic pot, the bit, or piece –that has undergone a process of rupture and division. But “shard” here, communicates the quality and potential of the broken piece – of something Page 1 of 5 that’s edges are left bare; exposed but ultimately, ‘free’. Shard also brings with it a degree of lifeforce within the small-scale of the fragment”, said Lokko.

DNA, 2021, El Anatsui, Photo by courtesy of Efiɛ Gallery

Expanding on the theme Lokko explains further that “The idea of the ‘song’ belonging to the shard, gives the shard agency. It also taps into the dynamism and movement that has evolved in the iterative process of the wood carvings. What emerges is an almost-musical quality to the wood panels’ pattern of carving and notes of color. There is a fluidity in the chaos, and visibility of force that propels the small scale carvings across the wood panels.

I felt the word ‘song’ brings it together in an intimate, personal way, communicating the joy, and liberatory notes in the works. The idea that “each shard has its own song” gives dignity and a unique power to each, but ‘song’ still can also be taken to mean the whole, cumulative impact of many individual shard songs.”

Keyboard of life, 2022, El Anatsui, Photo by courtesy of Efiɛ Gallery

In October 2021, Efiɛ Gallery made their Dubai debut with a pop-up pavilion exhibition in Burj Plaza, forming part of the All Africa Festival, and providing a highly acclaimed preview of the gallery’s longer-term plans for Dubai and the region. Now with its new and permanent exhibition space, Efiɛ Gallery is the new addition to the Al Khayat Art Avenue in Dubai’s Al Quoz Creative Zone. Efiɛ Gallery is one of the first movers to secure permanent gallery space in the new Al Khayat Art Avenue – an exciting new cultural destination and an integral new development within the expanding Al Quoz Arts District. The gallery space is 3000sqm of open exhibition space.

A mezzanine hosts an artist’s studio for residency programmes catering for both the gallery’s artists and local artists; creating a unique platform for collaboration and exchange between the two regions, as well as a record gallery which will exhibit rare and important vinyl records from around the world.

Through the exhibition of records, the gallery seeks to highlight the intersection of art and music, ultimately allowing for a holistic celebration of the Arts. The record gallery will also offer an intimate space where visitors can enjoy a relaxed environment, serving an assortment of speciality bites and beverages.

Credit: El Anatsui: Shard Song – Art Plugged