El Anatsui

(b. 1944)

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(1944– )

Ghanaian sculptor, born in the Ewe-speaking region. He has lived in Nigeria since 1975. He is best known for gigantic wall hangings. At a distance they look like glittering capes but they are actually made from metal bottle tops and seals. They were exhibited at the 2007 Venice Biennale, where they made a great impression hanging from the arches of the Arsenale. A touring international exhibition of his work was entitled ‘Gawu’, which combines the Ewe words for metal and cloak. In spite of its splendour there is a darker aspect of the artist's work. The brand names on the bottle caps include ‘Dark Sailor’ and ‘Black Gold’, reminders of the time that sailing ships brought liquor and took away slaves. El Anatsui has also worked in wood and clay. He is represented in the British Museum.

Further Reading

B. Pollack, ‘El Anatsui, a sculptor who starts from scrap’, Washington Post (23 March 2008)

Subjects: Art.

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