El Anatsui

El Anatsui is a Ghanaian Sculptor. A lot of his older works are in wood and ceramics, and reference Ghanaian beliefs, customs, and traditions. His most recent works, however, are what I find incredibly interesting. He takes the aluminum off the tops of liquor bottles and creates these wonderful installations mimicking a Ghanaian cloth called kente cloth.

I saw his work recently at the Blanton Museum of Art at home in Austin. He had a solo show which had around 60 pieces of his work spanning the many decades of his career. The aluminum cloth pieces were breathtaking. The coolest thing about them in my view, was that the installation process of these works is left up to the individuals who work in the gallery, so the final product (which colors are used where, where the folds are, ect) is entirely up to the installers. I am very interested in installation work where the process is as much a part of the final product as the resulting image. Much of my previous work in sculpture has resulted in me coming up with an overall idea and general concept of what it will look like, but taking the pieces I create, and installing them in a way that feels right in that moment. I love that if I were to put it up again, it would look different every time, and that it was I enjoy about El Anatsui’s pieces. I also think it’s super cool that he doesn’t want to be in control of the overall outcome of the work, but rather leaves it up to different groups of people to create that final work the audience will be interacting with. I, however, don’t think that’s my style. I enjoy a work’s ability to change, but I prefer to be the one in control of it, and that’s because I enjoy the process of installation, and kind of letting the pieces decide where they want to go and what they want to do. I enjoy interacting with my art.

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