El Anatsui: Meyina
Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa25 Nov 2017 - 20 Dec 2017
Meyina marks the first solo exhibition of El Anatsui – one of the most influential contemporary artists working today – in South Africa.
Over the past four decades Anatsui has created a vast body of work that has expanded the language of contemporary sculpture in Africa and internationally.
Meyina (meaning ‘I am going’ in Ewe), curated by independent curator and the Director of CCA Lagos Bisi Silva, presents a portrait of the artist by bringing together disparate fragments that form a whole.
The seven large-scale sculptural installations, which read like intricate tapestries, are composed of thousands of crumpled pieces of metal sourced from local alcohol recycling stations and bound together with copper wire. The works engage with and comment on African history, post-colonial conditions, as well as the daily realities and experiences on the continent.
Alongside these recently works constructed out of recycled materials, there will be a collection of archival objects on exhibit, which have been selected by Bisi Silva from Anatsui’s studio, study and library
in Nsukka, Nigeria. These include sketchbooks, drawings, letters, exhibition planning and instruction documents; books Anatsui reads and is featured in; as well as brochures and exhibition publications to which he has contributed, especially those of Nigerian artists.
On a conceptual level, Meyina explores the notion of a limitless horizon, presenting an immersive space where possibilities become real. Paraphrasing Ghanaian author Koffi Amyidoho, Anatsui states: ‘When I am in the studio it is as if the sky bends down to have a word with the earth.’ Indeed, the works, which can grow to be massive in scale, are simultaneously luminous and weighty, meticulously fabricated, yet malleable.
For Bisi Silva: ‘it is always an honour to have the opportunity to work again with El Anatsui […] With his scintillating sculptural installations, over the past two decades he has been able to articulate his interest in and study of African History and its post-colonial identity. Through this exhibition I hope to highlight aspects of his artistic practice as well as his professional career of over three decades as a university professor and its impact on several generations of artists, curators and writers from Nigeria, West Africa and across the continent.’
Meyina was first realised at the Prince Claus Gallery, Amsterdam, an exhibition which ran until April this year.