Ghanaian Artist El Anatsui, First African Appointed at London’s Royal Academy
Ghanaian artist El Anatsui has been appointed honorary academician by London’s Royal Academy. Best-known for his monumental fabrics made with thousands of small metal pieces, he’s the first African to receive the accolade. Question: what does this mean for African art?
by AIGERIM SAPAROVAGlobally renowned Ghanaian-born contemporary artist, El Anatsui, has officially graced the Big Apple. As of February 8, 2013, the Brooklyn Museum welcomed Anatsui’s first solo exhibition in New York City entitled, “Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui.” Over 30 of his metal and wood works will be on display through August 4th of this year.
Born in 1944 to a fisherman father who was also a master weaver of kente cloth, Anatsui grew up in the Anyako province of the Volta Region. He studied art at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology [KNUST] in Kumasi. However, the young artist did not forget his African roots—making efforts to immerse himself in local Ghanaian traditions. In the 1970s, Anatsui’s artistic style was entirely local – wall pieces made from wooden display trays gathered in local markets, stamped with mythical symbols using a hot iron.