|The first solo exhibition in a New York museum by the globally renowned contemporary artist El Anatsui, this show will feature over 30 works in metal and wood that transform appropriated objects into site-specific sculptures. Anatsui converts found materials into a new type of media that lies between sculpture and painting, combining aesthetic traditions from his birth country, Ghana; his home in Nsukka, Nigeria; and the global history of abstraction. |
In the 1970s, Anatsui began to manipulate broken ceramic fragments. With their allusions to ancient Nok terracotta sculptures, West African myths about the earth and cultural references to the use of clay, the ceramic works piece together shattered ideas and histories to form a new whole. In the same decade, he also made sculptures that brought together signs and symbols from various cultures and languages, created by chopping, carving, burning and etching wood.
In the 1990s, Anatsui made a crucial shift from working with hand tools to carving with a power saw, which enabled him to cut through blocks of wood, leaving a jagged surface that he likened to the scars left by European colonial encounters with Africa.
In his most recent metal wall sculptures, Anatsui assembles thousands of West African liquor-bottle tops into moving patterns of stunning visual impact, transforming this simple material into large shimmering forms. When I Last Wrote to You about Africa includes the largest compilation of Anatsuiís works ever assembled, including massive wall pieces and large-scale floor installations. "I think of myself as an artist," Anatsui said in an interview with Agence-France-Presse. "And I'm an African."†
Brooklyn Museum Website