El Anatsui — from eating Tate & Lyle sugar in Ghana to filling Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.
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 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.
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 and the museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf.
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.
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
El Anatsui News
From a distance it looks ugly and apocalyptic, like a burned-out curtain. But approach the biggest of the three hangings dropping from the heights of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall and a miracle begins..
As his newest sculptures fill Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, the Ghanaian artist is returning to his roots and thinking about his legacy..
The Accra-based artist is preparing for a major commission at the Tate Modern in London, which opens this fall..
Ever-Present, a group exhibition at Efie Gallery, offers a glimpse at how art from the continent has evolved over time
THE 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE OF 2023
El Anatsui Selected to Create Monumental Work for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall
Tate announces El Anatsui as next artist for vast Turbine Hall commission
Dubai Gallery presents Ghanaian contemporary art at Christie’s London