The "El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale" exhibition has made a home at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art for January 2020
13 January 2020| Last updated on 14 January 2020
A must-see celebration of modern African artistry
El Anatsui’s is proclaimed by many to be one of the most notable African Artists of modern art. His unique and vibrant sculptures have captured the hearts and minds of the public and several revered institutions and public collectors across the world.
Born in Ghana is 1944, Anatsui’s remarkable spans over 50 years and several countries. His work is included in esteemed institutions such as The British Museum (London), the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (Washington DC), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Museum Kunstpalast (Dusseldorf, Germany) and many more.
Residents and visitors to Qatar are in for a real treat if they visit "El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale" at Masthaf throughout January 2020.
1. Simple, everyday materials that transform into magnificent pieces
Anatsui’s early works are inspired by woven patterns and graphic symbols. Initially utilizing a chainsaw as a carving tool, Anatsui created monochromatic wood panels and planks contain a stimulating array of patterns. He then began to incorporate various types of wood and woodworking machines such as a rotary saw, wood cutter and blowtorch.
After his forays in wood and terracotta sculptures, Anatsui gravitated to large, labor intensive sculptures. Anatsui’s use of fragmentation as a compositional technique gives even the most abstract of his works an iconic power. The laborious manual work of flattening, cutting, twisting and crushing bottle caps and using coper wires to stitch the elements into one dazzling epic piece serves as a metaphor for the constitution of human society.
2. Despite first appearances, Anatsui's work is anything but random
In the early 1990’s, Antasui explored a new type of freestanding structures consisting of shaped wood blocks designed in such a way that resulted in configurable columns stacked high (above average human height) and stabilized by a metal pole running through the core. Each induvial block can be rotated so that each piece’s profile could be changed. Each piece, covered in intricate carved or burned designs, has miraculous shape-shifting abilities.
Later in the 2000’s, Anatsui’s bottle cap pieces debuted in sheer size. Whether the emphasis is on monochromatic or multicolor composition, the varied artworks display vast panoramas that at once draw the audience in to appreciate the delicately stitched, plain or branded elements, while also compelling them to step back to apprehend Anatsui’s magnificent visual orchestras.
Aluminium bottle caps flattened and stitched together with copper wire.
Bottle caps and copper wire work
3. Triumphant Scale is comprised of Anatsui’s most prominent works
The exhibition is the largest collection of Anatsui’s work and is spread across 10 separate gallery spaces in Mathaf. Amongst several notable works, Gravity and Grace greets visitors in the main entry. Given its sheer size and visual complexity, Gravity and Grace’s delicate craft, shimmery façade and monumental scale will hook you. Additional notable works include, but are not limited to, Man’s Cloth, Logoligi Logarithm, Erosion and more.
Anatsui - Gravity and Grace
4. Globally recognised and he is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards.
Anatsui’s works have been included in countless international art exhibitions. Over the past 50 years, he has exhibited in five continents and in over 15 major exhibitions. In addition, he has participated in major group exhibitions including the Venice Biennale (1990 and 2007); the 5th Biennale in Havana (19940; the 1st Johannesburg Biennale (1995) and other biennales in Venice, Dakar, Liverpool, Gwangju, Marrakesh, Osaka, and Paris.
Anatsui’s prestigious awards list is equally as long. He has received commendable awards such as the Golden Lion for Life Work at the Venice Biennale (2015) and many more. In addition, Anatsui has received honorary doctorates from Harvard University and the University of Cape Town.
5. While at Mathaf you can enjoy the excellent Permanent Collection
The collection of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art is a unique survey of 20th and 21st century modern and contemporary art from the Arab World, the Middle East, and wider geographies of Africa, Asia, and Europe that are historically connected to Qatar and the Arab Peninsula.
The galleries dedicated to the permanent collection bring together landmark artists and pivotal works that redefine art practices and art historical narratives. Major themes of aesthetics and politics of change and progress within multiple modernities and histories of art and society are addressed: the rise of nation-states; colonial struggles and post-independence projects of reconstruction; the development and influence of the oil industry; the birth of new urban centers and cities; and aspirations to progress in a global, hyper digitalized and networked era.
El Anatsui - Grandma's Cloth VI
- Details: Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art in Education City
- Dates: 1 October 2019 – 31 January 2020
- Timings: Saturday to Thursday 9:00 am – 7:00 pm, Friday 1:30 pm – 7:00 pm
- Ticket prices: Admission is free to Qatar Residents holding a valid Qatar ID. All other admission is QAR 50
El Anatsui, photographed by Maximillian Geuter.