After a long and productive trip to the US, I'm back in the Land o' Smiles and attempting to catch up. I owe many friends, acquaintances, and family 'krup khun khas' for all the good meals, guide and chauffeur services, and generous assistance. It wouldn't have been much fun without y'all! Robert thanks you too!
While in DC I visited a favorite museum, the Sackler Asian and African (now the National Museum of African Art) galleries, which are part of the Smithsonian, and was surprised to find a show of the work of El Anatsui. Born in Ghana, but living and teaching in Nigeria since 1975, he recycles a variety of materials into compelling artworks which address his heritage, consumerism, and society's ills, among other things. I was originally introduced to his work at the Harn Museum at the University of Florida, where one of his 'cloths' hangs on permanent display (my photo below).
Made of wired-together metal strips from the necks and tops of liquor bottles that were to be recycled, it is huge, richly textured, and sensuous - all belying the fact that it is made of rigid, unwanted materials. The rich metallic color brings to mind Ghana's famous goldsmith traditions, and its composition of strips gives a nod to the strip-woven cloth of Ghana, called 'kente' (which his brothers and father made as Ewe weavers) . This is even more apparent in a work in a show catalog that I picked up:
Even with these acknowledgements of his origins and that inherent meaning, El Anatsui's work very eloquently speaks a universal language of beauty, creative and meaningful use of materials, and form. More information on this show, the artist and the work is available here
. For a fine example of an Ewe kente cloth please see ours here
Labels: african art, el anatsui, Ewe, kente cloth, National Museum of African Art, objet trouve