From March to July 2019, Haus der Kunst will present El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale, a major survey of the work of the acclaimed artist El Anatsui.
El Anatsui’s survey exhibition ‚Triumphant Scale’ at Haus der Kunst – the first ever in Europa – is the most comprehensive and detailed presentation of his oeuvre thus far. Occupying the entire East Wing, the exhibition comprises key works from five decades of the artist’s carer.
At the core of the exhibition, wich focuses on the triumphant and monumental nature of El Anatsui’s groundbreaking oeuvre, are the bottle-cap works from the last two decades, with their majestic, imposing presence and dazzling colours. The exhibition also presents the lesser known wood sculptures and wall reliefs from the mid -1980s to the late 1990s, ceramic sculptures from the 1970s, as well as drawings, prints, and sketchbooks. Fascinated by the museum’s monumental architecture, El Anatsui has cerated three works especially for this exhibition: two indoor works, „Logoligi Logarithm“ and „Rising Sea“, and „Second Wave“ on the building’s facade.
The exhibition reveals the artist’s tireless preoccupation with the question of how a contemporary sculptural concept can be developed from the rich plastic innovations of classical and traditional African art. El Anatsui has persistently worked to transform the formal and sculptural possibilities of African sculptural idioms and, over fifty years, he has repeatedly revised ans reinvented his material and compositional techniques to astonishing effect –from the early smaller wooden reliefs to their incised markings and broke ceramic forms, to the monumental outdoor cement sculptures, and more recently , the vast and spectacular metal wall and floor works, which blures the boundaries between sculpture, painting and assemblage. In El Anatsui’s hands, light, from, color, porousness and corporeality berg into awe-inspiring and triumphant works of art.
As El Anatsui commented in 2003, the use of found materials is of fundamental importance: „ I experimented with many materials. I also worked with materials that has experienced a lot of touch and use by people… and these types of materials and works are more charged than materials or pieces that I have worked with machines. Art grows out of any specific situation, and I think artists should work better with what their environment currently provides.“
The weathered surfaces of the transformed objects seem initially like a meditation of the transience but, as Okwui Enwezor observes, El Anatsui intrinsically expands the possibilities of sculpture by responding to every material „ as if he just discovered it in the flow of time and history.“
Curated by Okwui Enwezor and Chika Okeke-Agulu
Assistant Curator: Damian Lentini
„El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale“ travels to the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha (October 1, 2019 – February 2,2020); the Museum of Fine Art, Bern (March13 to June 21, 2020); and the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao (July 17 to November 1, 2020).