"Art grows out of each particular situation, and I believe that artists are better off working with whatever their environment throws up."
Born in Ghana, El Anatsui takes the broad spectrum of indigenous African cultures as an extended canvas. His central themes concern the erosion of inherited traditions by powerful external forces and the manner of their survival and transmission into the present. Throughout a distinguished forty-year career as an artist and Professor of Sculpture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Anatsui has addressed a vast range of social, political and historical concerns, and embraced an equally diverse vocabulary of media and process. His creations are made with anything from chainsaws and welding torches to an intricate and meditative 'sewing' process.
Drawing on the aesthetic traditions of Ghana and Nigeria as well as contemporary Western forms of expression, Anatsui's works engage the cultural, social and economic histories of West Africa. Through their associations, his humble fragments provide a commentary on globalization, consumerism, waste and the transience of people's lives in West Africa and beyond. Their re-creation as powerful and transcendent works of art--many of which recall traditional practices and art forms--suggests that the power of human agency should alter such harmful patterns.
Anatsui's works are in numerous public and private collections around the world. To name a few: The Asele Institute, The British Museum, The Indianapolis Museum of Art, Centre Pompidou, de Young Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum Kunst Palast, The Newark Museum, The Nigeria National Art Gallery, Segataya Museum and the Smithsonian Institution.