El Anatsui: Gawu

March 12, 2008 – September 2, 2008

National Museum of African Art
950 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC

Sylvia H. Williams Gallery, Sublevel 1 Floor Plan

This is the first solo exhibition of works by El Anatsui, one of Africa's leading contemporary artists, who was originally from Ghana and has lived in Nigeria since 1975. Having experimented with a variety of media, his most recent focus is on the use of discarded metal objects -- tops from food tins or wrappers from flattened metal liquor bottles -- hundreds or even thousands of which are joined together to resemble weavings that both reflect the tradition of Ghanaian strip cloths and the abstraction of modernist paintings. El Anatsui indicates that the word gawu (derived from Ewe, his native language) has several potential meanings, including "metal" and "a fashioned cloak." The term, therefore, manages to encapsulate the medium, process, and format of the works that will be on view, reflecting the artist's transformation of discarded materials into objects of striking beauty and originality.

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Organized by Oriel Mostyn Gallery, Wales.