For four months, Haus der Kunst is exhibiting an extensive collection of El Anatsui’s works. It comprises art pieces from the beginning of his career until now.
Born in Ghana, El Anatsui is an artist who’s proving that great art can emerge anywhere in the world. The comprehensive exhibition shows the immense works made of materials like used bottle caps, wood panels, and so on. He likes to play and experiment with whatever materials he can find. Despite their monumentality, they convey lightness and transparency.
The sculptures are a network of aluminium bottle caps tied together, giving the impression of a textile flowing on the walls. The patterns and colours reflect the traditional robe for the most important men in the African society: the kente.
In a way that can draw connections between consumption, waste, and the environment, El Anatsui generates meaning out of his material and technical process. The process of cutting, flattening, squeezing, twisting, folding and joining of thousands of these bottle caps, together with copper wire that weave together fabricated sections into a single work, reflects the creation of human communities out of connected individuals.
This piece was my favorite one from the whole exhibition. Not only because of its scale, but, also because of the labyrinth-like shape that allow visitors to be part of this artwork. Through the promenade, the curtains close or open up the path. It plays with the visitor, creating a sense of uncertainty, confusion and disorientation. It it said to enact life’s incertitude.
Overall, I certainly enjoyed the exhibition as I am truly fascinated by how the artist was able to integrate and connect the themes of tradition, culture, history to the ones of environment, materiality and architecture. El Anatsui successfully pinpointed these issues and topics in his artworks in compelling ways. It makes people think and reflect on it, which how I personally measure the success of any form of art.