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‘El Anatsui: Meyina’, marking Anatsui’s first solo museum exhibition on South African soil, opens at Iziko South African National Gallery on February 17.
It is presented by Iziko Museums of South Africa, in partnership with Goodman Gallery and the Friends of the Iziko South African National Gallery.
Meyina (meaning ‘I am going’ in Ewe), curated by the Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art Lagos, Bisi Silva, will open at the Iziko South African National Gallery on 17 February 2018.
Over the past four decades, Anatsui has created a vast body of work, which has expanded the language of contemporary sculpture in Africa and internationally. The exhibition presents a portrait of the artist by bringing together disparate fragments that form a whole.
The large-scale sculptural installations, which read like intricate tapestries, are composed of thousands of crumpled pieces of metal that are sourced from local alcohol recycling stations and bound together with copper wire. The works engage with and comment on African history, post-colonial conditions, as well as daily experiences on the continent.
On a conceptual level, these complex metallic assemblages explore the notion of a limitless horizon. Anatsui paraphrases Ghanaian author, Koffi Amyidoho when he describes his process in poetic terms, ‘When I am in the studio it is as if the sky bends down to have a word with the earth.’ Indeed, the works, which can grow to be massive in scale, are simultaneously luminous and weighty, meticulously fabricated, yet malleable.
This is not the first time exhibition curator Bisi Silva has worked with the artist, ‘it is always an honour to have the opportunity to work again with El Anatsui […] With his scintillating sculptural installations, over the past few decades he has been able to articulate his interest in and study of African history and its post-colonial identity. In this exhibition, I hope to highlight aspects of his artistic practice, as well as his professional career as a university professor and its impact on several generations of artists, curators and writers from Nigeria, West Africa and across the continent.’
This year, Anatsui was awarded the prestigious Praemium Imperiale Award for Sculpture; in 2016 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Cape Town; in 2015 he received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement Award at the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Biennale di Venezia – All the World’s Futures; in 2014, he was made an Honorary Royal Academician and elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and, in 2009, Anatsui received the Prince Claus Award.
Meyina was first exhibited at the Prince Claus Gallery in Amsterdam last year, after which it travelled to Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
El Anatsui was born in Ghana in 1944 and has had a distinguished career in Nigeria since 1975 as a visual artist and educator. His work is part of the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris and the British Museum, London, amongst other public collections. El Anatsui is emeritus Professor of Sculpture at the Department of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he taught for over thirty years.
About Iziko Museums of South Africa (Iziko)
Iziko operates 11 national museums, the Planetarium and Digital Dome, the Social History Centre and three collection specific libraries in Cape Town. The museums that make up Iziko have their own history and character, presenting extensive art, social and natural history collections that reflect our diverse African heritage. Iziko is a public entity and public benefit organisation that brings together these museums under a single governance and leadership structure. The organisation allows *free access to all individuals on commemorative days, (*excluding the Castle of Good Hope, Groot Constantia and Planetarium and Digital Dome). Visit their webpage at www.iziko.org.za, join the online community on Facebook (www.facebook.com/IzikoMuseums) or follow them on Twitter (@Iziko_Museums) for regular updates on events, news and new exhibitions.