Anatsui’s works have featured prominently in major collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The British Museum, and the Venice Biennale. The Brooklyn Museum in New York is currently exhibiting over thirty of Anatsui’s works until August 4, 2013 in a retrospective entitled Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui.
Anatsui’s work exhibits a vivid energy and beauty, made all the more remarkable since he uses throwaway aluminum caps from liquor bottles as his material of choice. Endlessly versatile in their colors and configurations, the bottle caps become a mosaic of different colors and textures, once Anatsui pieces them together. He brings truth to the expression “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.
I believe that if you are working with materials that are not readily available and from your locality, you have problems, but if the materials are available and from your locality, then the art is speaking directly to you about you and your society. – El Anatsui
For more information about El Anatsui, please visit the Jack Shainman Gallery site for the artist’s biography. Anatsui is a member of the prestigious Nsukka Group, a group of artists associated with the University of Nigeria where he began teaching in 1975. The best book of El Anatsui’s work is currently Susan Mullin Vogel’s El Anatsui: Art and Life, published in 2012 by Prestel Publishing.
If someone is in very low spirits and they come across my work, which is made from very low quality bottle caps which you might see thrown on the street, it should give them some hope that there is something to be alive for. – El Anatsui