El Anatsui - Nukae-1

b. 1944, Ghana

El Anatsui trained at the College of Art, University of Science and Technology, in Kumasi, Ghana. he has been teaching at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, since 1975. his art has gained international recognition through exhibitions in Brazil, Japan, Europe, Africa and the United States.

El Anatsui
Aluminum and copper wire
Collection of Doreen and Gilbert Bassin

This construction is part of the artist's Gawu series that includes a number of "cloths" made with recycled metals--liquor bottle tops, evaporated milk tins and wire--that were gathered in and around Nsukka, Nigeria, where the artist lives and works. While the artist addresses global ideas about the environment, consumerism and the social history and memory of the "stuff" of our lives, his use of recycled materials also recognizes that human creativity and ingenuity are employed in creating something from available resources, including items that are discarded. The artist's "cloth" works also celebrate the woven and stamped textile traditions that remain vibrant in Ghana and Nigeria today.

The sewn metal sheets and other artworks in the Gawu series can easily be folded and assembled, adding a sense of performance as his works take on new shapes in response to a gallery's space. His metal constructs are also easy to disassemble and transport, reflecting the long-standing concern of artists everywhere over the high costs of crating and shipping large artworks.

Back to: NMAfA past exhibits