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El Anatsui​

El Anatsui (born c. 1944, Volta Region, Gold Coast [Now Ghana]) is an internationally revered and multi-award-winning Ghanaian artist.

He is known for his transformation of 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 take 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.

His installations have provoked wide international attention in recent years, with institutions and audiences fascinated by his sumptuous, mesmerising works made from thousands of aluminum bottle tops. During the 52nd Venice Biennale, in 2007, he transformed the façade of the Palazzo Fortuny by draping it in a shimmering bottle top sculpture, Fresh and Fading Memories. In 2010, two major touring shows of his work opened on opposite sides of the world; El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You About Africa at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada (organised by the Museum for African Art, New York) and A Fateful Journey: Africa in the Works of El Anatsui at the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan. As part of the 2012 Paris Triennale, he transformed the entire façade of Le Palais Galliera, formerly known as the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, with his striking work, Broken Bridge. In 2013, the Brooklyn Museum, New York, exhibited the touring solo exhibition, Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui, and the Royal Academy of Arts, London, presented the artist with the prestigious Charles Wollaston Award for his work, TSIATSIA – searching for connection, 2013, which covered the entire façade of the RA building. In 2019, the largest survey exhibition of El Anatsui’s work to date Triumphant Scale was presented at the Haus der Kunst, Munich Germany, (the exhibition toured to Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, 2019; and Kunstmuseum Bern, 2020) and the artist’s works were featured in Ghana’s first National Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale. In 2020, the exhibition In Search of Freedom was shown at the Conciergerie, Paris. In 2023, El Anatsui’s largest work to date ‘Behind the Red Moon’ was unveiled at the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall for the site-specific Hyundai Commission.

His sculptures have been collected by major international museums, including: The British Museum, London, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, the de Young Museum, San Francisco, the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, The Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, Brooklyn Museum, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Tate Modern, London and many others.

In 2015 El Anatsui was awarded the Venice Biennale art exhibition’s Golden Lion Award for lifetime achievement and El Anatsui was recognised by Time as one of the top 100 most influential people of 2023.

El Anatsui

Here El Anatsui is at his studio in Ghana, where he invited Efiɛ Gallery to shoot a short film showcasing the unique studio process of his work. The Full Film was premiered at the Efiɛ Gallery debut exhibition in Dubai, alongside four installations of his work.

Director: King Henry Blackson
Management: Afia Owusu-Afriyie
Producer: Kofi Owusu-Afriyie
Director of Photography: Samuel Edem Wunu
Photographer: Deryk Owusu-Bempah
Editor: Eric Yirenkyi and Kobi Mintah

Selected works

El Anatsui Elephant in the Room
Elephant in the Room, 2022
Tropical hardwood, 161 x 266.7 cm
El Anatsui, Profile of a country
Profile of a country, 2022
Aluminium bottle caps and strips connected with copper wire 304.8 x 274.32 cm
El Anatsui, Ancient text
Ancient text, 2021
Scorched tropical hardwood 260 x 165 cm

El Anatsui News

Detsi, 2021.
Aluminium and copper, 300 x 800 cm
DNA, 2021. Scorched tropical hard wood planks, 239 x 152 cm
DNA, 2021
Scorched tropical hard wood planks, 239 x 152 cm
Silent One, 2021
Silent One, 2021
Aluminium and copper 320 cm x 310 cm
TT, 2021 Aluminium and copper 300 cm x 620.6 cm
TT, 2021
Aluminium and copper 300 cm x 620.6 cm
No, thank you. I do not want.