Sunday, 31 January 2016

After Venice Biennale Glory, Anatsui Shows New Works in London


By Tajudeen Sowole

After being crowned with The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement award at the 56th Venice Biennale, in Italy last year, El Anatsui will be making his next major art exhibition in Europe.

   
One of El Anatsui's works titled Warrior. Photo by Tobias Nordvik

Mostly of works produced within the last one year, the exhibition simply titled El Anatsui New Works start from February 4 to April 2, 2015 at October Gallery, London, U.K. A private viewing is scheduled to hold on February 10, 2015 at the same gallery.  

   
In a preview-statement, the gallery describes Anatsui as "one of the most exciting artists of our time." The exhibition, it adds, will present a new body of work that further explores possibilities of the artist’s iconic bottle-top sculptures. 
  Most, if not nearly all the works are done in the artist's traditional aluminium and copper wire. One of the works viewed in soft copies include Warrior, a figural impression spilling out of the border scope of the entire piece. Radiating a cubic form, that is clearly shaped by the woven-mat texture of the composite, the piece highlights combative posture of Warrior, adding quite an energy to the concept.


 Other works of obviously wall pieces include

 Breaking News, (2015, aluminium and copper wire, 276 x 260 cm.);  Focus, (2015, 284 x 320 cm); and Dzi II, (2015, 281 x 324 cm.);

   
The gallery notes that during Anatsui's distinguished 40 -year career as both sculptor and teacher at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka he addressed a vast range of social, political and historical concerns, and embraced an equally diverse range of media and processes. His installations, the statement adds have provoked wide international attention, with institutions and audiences fascinated by these sumptuous, mesmerising works made from thousands of aluminium bottle tops.


In 2014, Anstsui showed in a group exhibition at October Gallery during the its 35 years anniversary.

The event that marked three and half decades the gallery’s  of showing of artists from around the world was highlighted with exhibition titled Transvangarde. It featured works of Anatsui, Kenji Yoshida, William S. Burroughs, Laila Shawa, Romuald Hazoumè, Gerald Wilde and Aubrey Williams.


Born in Anyako, Ghana in February, 1944, Anatsui was trained a sculptor at the College of Art, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana from 1965 to 1968. From 1975 till date, he has been teaching sculpture at the University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka, Enugu State, Southeast of Nigeria.

  During the Venice Biennale in 2007, Anatsui transformed the facade of the Palazzo Fortuny by draping it in a shimmering wall sculpture. 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 facade of Le Palais Galleria, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris with his striking work, Broken Bridge. In 2013, the Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA, 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 facade of the RA building. In 2014, he was made an Honorary Royal Academician as well as elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


 Past solo his solo exhibitions of Anatsui, among others, included Earth Growing Roots, SDSU University Art Gallery, San Diego State University (2009); El Anatsui: Nyekor, Spazio Rossana Orlandi, Milan (2006); El Anatsui: Gawu, Oriel Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno (2003–2008); Hakpa, French Cultural Centre, Lagos (1997); El Anatsui, October Gallery, London (1995); Old and New: An Exhibition of Sculpture in Assorted Wood, National Museum, Lagos (1991); Venovize: Ceramic Sculptures, Faculty of Arts and Design, Cornwall College (1987); Pieces of Wood: An Exhibition of Mural Sculpture, The Franco-German Auditorium, Lagos (1987); Sculptures, Photographs, Drawings, Goethe-Institut, Lagos (1982); Wood Carvings, Community for the Arts, Cummington, Massachusetts (1980); Broken Pots: Sculpture by El Anatsui, British Council Enugu/Institute of African Studies, University of Nigeria Nsukka (1979); Wooden Wall Plaques, Asele Art Gallery, Nsukka (1976).

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