Lot 30
  • 30

El Anatsui

250,000 - 350,000 GBP
493,250 GBP
bidding is closed


  • El Anatsui
  • Zebra Crossing 2
  • aluminium and copper wire


Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner


San Diego, San Diego State University Art Gallery, El Anatsui: Earth Growing Roots, 2008, illustrated

Catalogue Note

"Artists are better off working with whatever their environment throws up. I think that's what has been happening in Africa for a long time... I believe that colour is inherent in everything, and it's possible to get colour from around you, and that you're better off picking something which relates to your circumstances and your environment than going to buy ready-made colour"

The artist, cited in: Exhibition Catalogue, London, October Gallery, El Anatsui, 2005, n.p.

Zebra Crossing 2 is a sumptuous exhibition from El Anatsui's inimitable 'cloth series'. With its complex, dazzling, multicoloured patterns of bright hues, geometric shapes and bold design, the present work alludes to the complex history, tradition and meanings of traditional cloths in an exquisite sculpture. The leading light of a number of African artists that were brought to pre-eminence by the 2005 travelling exhibition Africa Remix: Contemporary Art of a Continent, Anatsui's works are today found in major institutional collections across the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Centre Pompidou, Paris and the British Museum, London.

Living and working in Nigeria and born in Ghana, home to some of the most diverse and vibrant traditions of textile production in the world, El Anatsui is acutely aware of the symbolic and signifying potential of cloth, drawing on the cultural idioms of African culture that is reminiscent of traditional kente cloth of the Ashanti people of Ghana. Originally the sacred cloth of kings worn for official occasions, over time the use of kente became more widespread but always conferred importance. As the artist explains: "Cloth is to the African what monuments are to Westerners... Their capacity and application to commemorate events, issues, persons and objectives outside of themselves are so immense" (Exhibition Catalogue, London, October Gallery, El Anatsui, 2005, n.p.).

The opulent and evocative shimmering surfaces of Zebra Crossing 2 gently alert us to the human histories and relationships that have shaped contemporary Africa. Like threads in a tapestry these themes weave together effortlessly to produce an incredibly powerful and beautiful work of art, which, like all great art, stuns us into contemplation of emotive themes. Never forceful, Anatsui's subject is all the more powerful because of the subtlety and intelligence of its delivery. The final sculpture is spatially ephemeral, taking on a new life each time it is hung in a new space, allowing infinitely variable folds and creases. Evolving organically and unpredictably under the artist's direction, the intricate design transforms rigid, metal material into something malleable and luxurious.