El Anatsui is an internationally acclaimed artist who transforms simple materials into complex assemblages that create distinctive visual impact. He uses resources typically discarded such as liquor bottle caps and cassava graters to create sculpture that defies categorization. His use of these materials reflects his interest in reuse, transformation, and an intrinsic desire to connect to his continent while transcending the limitations of place. His work can interrogate the history of colonialism and draw connections between consumption, waste, and the environment, but at the core is his unique formal language that distinguishes his practice.
Anatsui is well-known for large scale sculpture composed of thousands of folded and crumpled pieces of metal sourced from local alcohol recycling stations and bound together with copper wire. These intricate works, which can grow to be massive in scale, are both luminous and weighty, meticulously fabricated yet malleable. He leaves the installations open and encourages the works to take different forms every time they are installed. In the 2003 Fowler Museum catalogue accompanying his touring exhibition El Anatsui: Gawu, he said, “I don’t want to be a dictator. I want to be somebody who suggests things.”
These limited edition prints by El Anatsui were published by Benefit Print Project in New York City and made in collaboration with Andre Ribuoli and Jennifer Mahlman-Ribuoli of Ribuoli Digital. All of the artworks in the variations contain hand-sculpted paper elements secured with copper wire, making each one unique. The paper elements also make each artwork volumetric. In keeping with El Anatsui's ongoing interest in making works of art that explore the possibility of there being more than one front, the variations reveal two distinct sides. Furthermore, they have multiple orientations, which is a feature that connects them to the celebrated works of his that are made from liquor-bottle caps.