Ghanaian artist El Anatsui is one of Africa's most famous artists -- just one of his famous bottle-top works fetches millions of dollars on the international market -- and yet, he has never had an exhibition in South Africa.
But that's about to change.
Meyina, Anatsui's first solo exhibition in the country, will open at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg later this month. Visitors can expect to see seven large sculptural installations alongside some personal artefacts from Anatsui's studio in Nigeria.
Anatsui has received global acclaim for his work, which transforms waste products mainly taken from the alcohol industry (bottle tops, glass and metallic papers) into glimmering artworks, which take the form of draped metallic textiles.
Speaking last year, Anatsui said his first exposure with South Africa was through music, as he listened to South African jazz artists on the radio while he was growing up in Ghana.
"I got to know South Africa long ago as a kid through music," he said. "Radio Ghana used to have a programme called 'Way Down South' that played South African music for 30 minutes every Saturday, which I was addicted to. So I grew up knowing names like Dorothy Masuka, Kippie Moeketsi, Little Lemmy and Big Joe, Mahotella Queens, Jazz Epistles, Miriam Makeba and, of course, Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim, whose careers I follow closely."
Anatsui's work has been exhibited at many of the world major museums, from the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., to the Vatican Museum in Rome.
"The idea that is behind all of my work is to find a sculptural form which is free, which is mutable and variable, and I found it in the bottle-cap pieces. I got tired of statues of 'knights on horses' in bronze or on the walls of museums, which have been the fare for centuries, especially in Western art. I thought that if art is regarded as life, it should reflect the dynamic and constantly changing nature of it, and not freeze just a moment of it. I want my art forms to replicate that kind of quality."
The exhibition opens on November 25 at the Goodman Gallery Johannesburg.
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