El Anatsui

El Anatsui

El Anatsui

Finding beauty in the discarded can be an art form in itself. An art that Ghanaian artist El Anatsui (1944–) – pronounced [a-na-ch-wi] – has certainly mastered in his colourful and intricate works made out of recycled materials. Using humble media such as metal bottle tops, driftwood, cans and other scrap metal, Anatsui weaves stunning works of art, full of vibrant colours and captivating imagery.

Metal tapestries and explosive hues

Among the most iconic of Anatsui’s works we find his magnificent woven metal tapestries, made by using copper wire to sew together small pieces of metal from e.g. bottle tops and cans. Combined in their thousands, these pieces of metal form special patterns, ultimately becoming impressive metal tapestries ranging in size from a few metres to vast examples capable of covering an entire façade. The patterns are crafted with great deliberation, evoking associations to traditional African art as well as Eurocentric art.

African art

El Anatsui was born and raised in Ghana, where he received his BA from the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. He lives in Nigeria, creating his works of art by hand. His works reflect his ethnic and cultural background, with the use of discarded relics of capitalism pointing to issues of colonialism and postcolonialism. Anatsui’s art revolves around the theme of transformation, following the lifecycle of each material from its destruction, transformation, and ultimate regeneration, reflecting on the course of nature and spiritual eternity. Observers may well see the dichotomy of Anatsui’s beautiful works and the ‘unsightly’ medium used to create them as a commentary on consumerism and its impact on the environment.



Works by El Anatsui are exhibited here:

Church of St. John

Socle du Monde Biennale 2021 is supported by: