El Anatsui is perhaps one of Africa’s most artistic sculptors to be still alive. Born in Ghana in 1944, Anatsui received his degrees at the College of Art at the University of Science and Technology in Ghana. He has since relocated to Nsukka, Nigeria. Anatsui’s artistic depth is clearly expressed in his ability to blur the boundaries between the worlds of art and reality.
For Anatsui, art is reality itself as it affords that marvelous opportunity which facilitates the freedom of one’s imagination. Thus art is the conduit through which the abstract gets grappled with, and, as an integral aspect of life, it is forever in a state of flux. Anatsui’s handiwork clearly embodies art as life itself. The genre of art he pursues is “formless,” in that it has “no top or bottom.”
Thus his ability to imagine and convert into treasure that which might be considered as worthless remains the hallmark of his work. From this point of view, his work clearly reflects the formlessness of African cultural art forms and the polysemic as well as the polyvalent qualities residing in them.
Reflecting on his own work, he excellently draws our attention to how it changes both in time and in space. His knack for making his pieces take on fabric qualities is intriguing. In sum, Anatsui’s work refuses the striations of western art, embracing what he describes as an “indigenized ethos.”
Catch a glimpse of El’s works in the ‘Gravity & Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui’ exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum from now until August 4, 2013.
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