El Anatsui (born 1944) weaves colorful metal tapestries from reclaimed bottle caps and bits of wire, reminiscent of Kente cloth, a banded traditional fiber made predominantly by the West African Akan people of the Ashante Kingdom. While born and raised in Ghana, El Anatsui has spent most of his artistic career in Nsukka, Nigeria where he has reinterpreted the important history of textiles of West African culture. These metal tapestries are woven from metal liquor bottles, referencing the tradition of venerating and honoring ancestors of with a libation of alcohol. The use of found materials also reflects his beliefs in repurposing and transformation, helping him and the viewer transcend the limitations of place while simultaneously referencing colonialism, consumption and waste.
El Anatsui received his Bachelor of Arts and postgraduate diploma in Art Education at the College of Art, University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. He has received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale and is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Centre Pompidou, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the British Museum.
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- In the collection of our sister gallery, form & concept, contemporary sculptor and jeweler MJ Tyson repurposes castoff metals in innovative ways. View her work.