Biography

...One of the most highly acclaimed artists in Africa's History and foremost contemporary artists in the world.

EL ANATSUI is a Ghanaian sculptor who has spent much of his achievement packed career living and working in Nigeria. El Anatsui currently runs a large workshop in Nsukka, Enugu, Nigeria, from which some of the most elaborate works of art in the world today are created.

He is one of the most highly acclaimed artists in African History and foremost contemporary artists in the world.

El Anatsui uses resources typically discarded such as liquor bottle caps and cassava graters to create sculpture that defies categorisation.

His use of these materials reflects his interest in reuse, transformation, and an intrinsic desire to connect to his continent while transcending the limitations of place. His work can interrogate the history of colonialism and draw connections between consumption, waste, and the environment, but at the core is his unique formal language that distinguishes his practice.

Anatsui is well-known for large scale sculptures composed of thousands of folded and crumpled pieces of aluminium bottle caps sourced from local alcohol recycling stations and bound together with copper wire. These intricate works, which can grow to be massive in scale, are luminous and weighty, meticulously fabricated yet malleable. He leaves the installations open and encourages the works to take new forms every time they are installed.

El Anatsui TSIATSIA – Searching For Connection, 2013
Confluence, 2017
Earth’s Cloth, 2003
Black Block, 2010
El Anatsui’s works can be found amongst some of the most prestigious art collections in the world...

El Anatsui was born in 1944 in Anyako, Ghana, a citizen of the Ewe Nation and son of a master weaver of Kente cloth. He acquired art training at the College of Art, University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, one of the highest ranking universities in Ghana. In 1975, when he had graduated from the university, El began teaching at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, as a Professor of Sculpture. He has taught at UNN for over four decades.

As a member of the faculty at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, El Anatsui began to incorporate Uli and Nsibidi of southeastern Nigeria into his work alongside his indigenous Adinkra symbols and other Ghanaian motifs and ideographic and logographic symbolism. He soon after became affiliated with Nsukka Group, a group with a shared vision to revive the practice of Uli and incorporate its designs into contemporary art.

Earth-Moon Connexions, 1995

 

Sacred Secrets Unfolding, 2006

El Anatsui’s works can be found amongst some of the most prestigious art collections in the world including permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC; The British Museum; the Vatican Museum and many more.

Kindred Viewpoints, 2016
Cire Perdue, Installation at Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, 2019, Photo courtesy, Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, Photo by Eric Sander