Lot 28
  • 28

El Anatsui

800,000 - 1,200,000 USD
910,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • El Anatsui
  • Introvert
  • found aluminum and copper wire
  • 271.78 by 279cm.; 107 by  109 7/9 in.


Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Zidoun-Bossuyt Gallery, Luxembourg
Private Collection, Europe

Catalogue Note

"[My chosen media] are sourced from my immediate environment, they have been put to intense human use. They are thought to have lost value. They are ignored, discarded or thrown away ... To me, their provenance imbues or charges them with history and content, which I seek to explore in order to highlight certain conditions of mankind's existence, as well as his relationship with himself and the environment. I therefore try to bring these objects back, to present them again in ways which seem to make them confront their former lives and the lives of those who have used them." - El Anatsui quoted in Susan Mullin Vogel, El Anatsui: Art and Life, 2012, p. 104

Internationally acclaimed, El Anatsui is one of the most exhilarating contemporary visual artists to have emerged from Ghana, West Africa. Distilling through his revolutionary vision, Anatsui develops unique methods of creation and fantastical fabric manipulation, effectively creating powerful works which address a vast range of social, political and historical topics.

Introvert from Anatsui's iconic bottle-top installations is a mesmerising multi-coloured tapestry, created from thousands of aluminium bottle-tops sewn together with copper wire, forming a gleaming metallic blanket. Introvert exemplifies Anatsui’s signatory method of artistic production coupled with his principle ideology of reassigning purpose to waste material in order to recount a rich and wonderful heritage. Transforming found objects into fine art, Anatsui's cloths cause the observer to examine their preconceptions of waste material, its relationship to beauty and how art cannot be confined to strict definitions.

This series was originally conceived ten years ago subsequent to the artist examining the contents of a household rubbish can, in which he found numerous vibrantly coloured metal screw tops of liquor bottles from local distilleries. He collected these from several bins and began to manipulate the materials which he had collected. The artist’s exquisite textiles are formed from hammered, cut, and folded caps; which are then sewn together with copper wire, giving the sculpture freedom of movement, leading to breath-taking manipulations of light and shadow. Susan Mullin Vogel notes "All drapings create a kind of visual dissonance, between the plastic forms of the draping and the graphic forms of the compositions. Just as viewers see first the whole tissue, then the individual tesserae of Anatsui's suspended sculptures, they simultaneously apprehend dramatically lit and and shadowed volumes overlaid by lines and colors that bear no compositional relationship to them" (Susan Mullin Vogel, El Anatsui: Art and Life, New York, 2012, p. 130). This distinctive method produces metal carpet works such as Introvert on an epic scale which succeed in inspiring awe within the viewer. These colourful geometric patterns are reminiscent of the variations found within kente cloth, a native tapestry of Ghana. Originally worn by kings for official occasions, kente cloth is correspondingly of great importance to Ghanaians, commemorating events, persons and purposes.

Anatsui's work alludes to the cultural history of Ghana, weaving the mutual histories of past and present into one whilst crafting an enchantingly fluid tapestry imbued with layers of memories. Within his works, the artist skillfully evokes the recognised aesthetics of painting without the application of physical paint. In Introvert, Anatsui effectively creates contemporary art with antiquated qualities connecting the individual and collective histories of the African continent; referencing its history, consumption, and globalisation.