The April issue of the World of Interiors offers a profile of renowned Nigerian artist El Anatsui. Working with the detritus of modern culture, such as bottle caps, labels and tin lids, he creates fabulous wall hangings and sculptures. Wall hangings shimmer and undulate; they dazzle the viewer.
El Anatsui is keen on collaborative process in making art. He works with a team of artists who link the tiny pieces that comprise a wall hanging with copper wire following his design. When he sends work out on exhibit, there are no detailed instructions for installation. Because of this, exhibitors also contribute to the piece with their decisions about how to show them.
I was fortunate to hear him lecture several years ago at the Glenbow Museum and then see a retrospective of his work at the Royal Ontario Museum. The ROM has one of his works on permanent installation and I have gone back to view it again and was thrilled anew.
It is humbling to see what great works of art can be created from materials that we toss aside. I am an amateur artist who has access to a wide selection of art materials with which I produce pedestrian work.
You can find out more about El Anatsui and other contemporary African artists in Environment and Object: recent African art. The book examines the way African artists tackle environmental topics from plastic waste to the ravages of the oil industry in the Niger delta. Incredible works of art with an awful lot to say.