The front of the Haus der Kunst in Munich is covered in printing plates. The wave of monumental curtains, made from 10,000 German and Nigerian plates used in offset printing, is longer than a football field. It is the handiwork of Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, one of a number of new works he created for his largest and most comprehensive retrospective to date, “El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale,” on view through July 28 at the German museum.
El Anatsui was already an established artist when he came across a bag of bottle caps that would change his life forever. After years working as a sculptor in wood, he began to create massive three-dimensional artworks made of used bottle caps. When woven together with copper thread, the caps would transform into tapestries of color and light the artist calls “blocks.”
Now, the artist employs dozens of assistants at his Nigeria studio to help create these works, and in an episode of Art21’s “Extended Play” series, viewers can go behind the scenes of his artistic process. “I try to impress upon them that a studio is a sacred place,” El Anatsui tells Art21, explaining that although he has lots of help to assemble the immense textured works, ultimately he is involved in every step of the production.
“For each new pattern or texture… I show them how it’s done,” he notes. “As an artist, if you don’t maintain physical contact… the work might end up not having a soul.”
The “blocks” formed by sewing together various materials are extremely mutable, so for different exhibitions, the artist can deconstruct and re-contextualize colors and patterns as he chooses. The result is “a very large bank of effects, of textures—that can trigger off new ideas,” he says.
The Haus der Kunst show is especially momentous as it was the last show organized by the artist’s friend and legendary…
Read the full article at https://news.artnet.com/exhibitions/art21-el-anatsui-1609927