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El Anatsui
In conjunction with Africa 2005, the forthcoming celebration of African art and culture, the October Gallery will present an exhibition of El Anatsui, the renowned West African sculptor.

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El Anatsui, is today widely recognised
as one of the foremost contemporary African artists of his generation. His
work makes reference to the history of the African continent, drawing as
easily on traditional African idioms as on western art practices. Professor
of Sculpture at the University of Nigeria at Nsukka, El Anatsui has been a
seminal force in the development of a contemporary West African style of
sculpture that continues to influence the several generations of talented
younger artists to have emerged both under his tutelage and beyond. Chosen
to represent the African Continent during the 1990 Venice Biennale, he has
since gone on to exhibit and lecture extensively around the world and to
achieve international acclaim. He was recently commissioned by the Eden
Project to create a major sculptural installation in their Humid Tropics
Biome and, as part of the Africa 2005 season, his work will be included in
the Hayward Gallery’s forthcoming ‘Africa Remix’ exhibition. El Anatsui will
also be a key speaker at the British Museum’s Africa 2005 Conference.
El Anatsui’s, most recent work explores the possibilities offered by found
objects and assemblages made from collected and recovered pieces of
discarded metal. Included will be several of the magnificent « cloth » pieces
that have generated so much interest and comment since he first displayed
them in 2002. Created by sewing together thousands of crushed and flattened
liquor bottle tops to form extensive pieces of cloth-like material, the
transformative beauty of these stunning works belies their mundane origins
and gives an entirely new dimension to the idea of ‘recycling.’ At his last
London exhibition, two similar pieces, Man’s Cloth and Woman’s Cloth, were
acquired by the British Museum.
Concentrating on his unique reworking of commonplace materials to make
original new forms, the exhibition will also feature Peak Project – a field
of sculptural objects fashioned from the collected tops of milk tins. Other
works to be shown include Wastepaper Bag, a ten-foot tall installation which
reshapes redundant obituary plates into a trenchant commentary on the manner
in which the human lives which the plates remember are tossed away like so
many crumpled pieces of scrap paper. There will also be several new works
created expressly for this October Gallery exhibition. A selection of the
works in this show will be drawn from Gawu – an exhibition of El Anatsui’s
work currently touring the UK that originated in the Oriel Mostyn Gallery,
Llandudno.