Iziko Museums of South Africa, in partnership with Goodman Gallery and the Friends of the Iziko South African National Gallery, presents ‘El Anatsui: Meyina’ marking Anatsui’s first solo museum exhibition in South Africa. Meyina (meaning ‘I am going’ in Ewe), curated by Bisi Silva, Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art Lagos, 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 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.

El Anatsui: Meyina
17 Feb – 29 Apr 2018

Iziko – South African National Gallery
Government Avenue
Company’s Garden
Cape Town


Source: Iziko – South African National Gallery.

Featured image: El Anatsui, Horizon, 2016. Bottle caps, 260 x 460cm. Source: Goodman Gallery.

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