El Anatsui is one of the most exciting contemporary visual artists of our time. Emerging from the vibrant post-independence art movements of 1960s and ’70s West Africa, he has gone on to receive widespread international acclaim for his sculptural experiments with media, form and tradition. October Gallery has been working closely together with El Anatsui since 1993.
Throughout a distinguished forty-year career as both sculptor and teacher – as Professor of Sculpture and Departmental Head at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka – El Anatsui has addressed a vast range of social, political and historical concerns, and embraced an equally diverse range of media and processes. Making use of tools as diverse as chainsaws, welding torches and power tools as well as developing a range of processes such as the intricate and meditative 'sewing' process of his later work, he has shaped found materials that range from cassava graters, railway sleepers, driftwood, iron nails and obituary printing plates, aluminium bottle-tops, etc. to create a wide variety of novel sculptural forms. El Anatsui's iconic “bottle-top installations” have provoked a frenzy of international attention between 2002 and the present, with institutions queuing to acquire these mesmerising works. Created from many thousands of aluminium bottle-tops wired together with copper, these magnificent wall sculptures continue to excite and amaze audiences wherever they are exhibited. His sculptures have been collected by major international museums, including the British Museum, London, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, the de Young Museum, San Francisco, the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, the museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, and many other prestigious institutions besides.
One of El Anatsui’s shimmering bottle-top wall-hangings, Fresh and Fading Memories (2007), caused a quiet sensation when, during the 2007 Venice Biennale, it transformed the historic Palazzo Fortuny when draped upon its outer facade. At the Dubai Art Fair, 2010, October Gallery presented another large-scale masterpiece - In the World, but Don’t know the World (2009), - to great acclaim, and the works have continued to expand in size, of late, and have been used to adorn the outside walls of various museums and galleries around the world. These larger external installations include: Ozone Layer and Yam Mound on the Old National Gallery of Berlin (2010), Broken Bridge I, on the Musée Galliera, Paris (2012), Broken Bridge II on the High Line, New York, (2012/13) and TSIATSIA – searching for connection (2013), El Anatsui’s largest bottle-top work to date. This shimmering tapestry of light embellished the façade of the Royal Academy of Arts, London, during its 245th Summer Exhibition.