El Anatsui, ‘Enlightened’, 2012, Jack Shainman Gallery

About El Anatsui

A critically acclaimed mixed-media artist, El Anatsui gained worldwide recognition in the early 2000s for his shimmering, monumental wall hangings, visual feasts rich with associations to Africa, Europe, and America. These expansive sheets, hung in undulating swags and blocky folds, are composed of countless bits of brightly colored metal, the salvaged caps of liquor bottles, which Anatsui and his team form into shapes, then link together with copper wire. A cross between painting, tapestry, and sculpture, the hangings grew out of his earlier investigations into re-purposing scrap materials, with their attendant cultural associations. “The link between Africa, Europe, and America is very much part of what is behind my work with bottle caps,” Anatsui explains, referencing the fraught connection between the sale of slaves and liquor, and the transformative power of his art to link everyone involved in its creation.

Ghanaian, b. 1944, Anyako, Ghana, based in Nigeria