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El Anatsui is a critically-acclaimed Ghanaian sculptor internationally known for his unique bottle-top installations which are made from thousands of pieces of aluminium sourced from bottle recycling stations and sewn together with copper wire to create metallic cloth-like wall sculptures. In 2008 he won the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale, and in 2017 became the first Ghanaian to be awarded the Praemium Imperiale international art prize. Here are some of the places that influenced El Anatsui into becoming one of the most important active artists to emerge from the African continent.
Today he may live in Nigeria, but El Anatsui was born in 1944 in Anyako, a town in the Volta region of Ghana. Anyako is a town inhabited mostly by the Ewe tribe and lies close to the border with Togo.
Considered one of the most acclaimed colleges in Ghana, El Anatsui gained his BA at the College of Art at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi from 1965 to 1968. In 1969 he completed his Postgraduate Diploma in Art Education at the same institution.
Winneba is a fishing port town in the central region of south Ghana.
After graduating from college, El Anatsui started work as a lecturer from 1969–1975 in the Art Education Department at Specialist Training College (now University of Education) Winneba, Ghana.
Nsukka is a town and Local Government Area in Enugu state, which is situated in the southeast region of Nigeria. It is also the birthplace of the first indigenous Nigerian university, founded by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first President of Nigeria.
In 1975, El Anatsui moved to Nigeria and began living in Nsukka and working as the Professor of Sculpture in the Fine and Applied Arts Department at University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). Since then, he has held several positions at the institution:
1982–1996 Senior Lecturer, Fine and Applied Arts Department
1998–2000 Head of Department, Fine and Applied Arts Department
1996–2011 Professor of Sculpture, Fine and Applied Arts Department
To date, El Anatsui continues to live and work in Nsukka Nigeria.
2014 El Anatsui: Playing With Chance. Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, Nigeria
1997 Hakpa, French Cultural Centre, Lagos, Nigeria
1991 Old and New: An Exhibition of Sculpture in Assorted Wood, National Museum, Lagos, Nigeria
1982 Sculptures, Photographs, Drawings, Goethe-Institut, Lagos, Nigeria
1979 Broken Pots: Sculpture by El Anatsui, British Council, Enugu, Nigeria
Broken Pots: Sculpture by El Anatsui, Institute of African Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria
1976 Wooden Wall Plaques, Asele Art Gallery, Nsukka, Nigeria
Most recent group exhibitions
2009 Homecoming, Artists Alliance Gallery, Accra, Ghana
2009 Promoter-of- Nigerian-Art Series, Goethe Institute, Lagos, Nigeria
2007 Living Masters, Terra Culture, Lagos, Nigeria
2006 DAK’ART 2006, 7th Biennale of African Art, Dakar, Senegal
2005 In the Making: Materials and Process, Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
2005 AKA . . . of Age 2005, Maison de France, Lagos, Nigeria
2003 Homage to Asele, National Museum Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria
1996 Group Exhibition, Avant-Garde Gallery, Kaduna, Nigeria
1995 AKA ’95, Bona Gallery, Enugu, Nigeria
1995 AKA ’95, Didi Museum, Lagos, Nigeria
1990 The Calabash 1st Art Exhibition, The Calabash, Lagos, Nigeria
1990 AKA ’90, The Presidential Hotel, Enugu, Nigeria
1990 AKA ’90, Goethe-Insitut, Lagos, Nigeria
1990 Achebe Celebration Exhibition, Continuing Education Centre, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria
1974 Tekarts Expo 5, National Arts Centre, Accra; Specialist Training College, Winneba, Ghana
1969–1970 Ghana National Collection, National Arts Centre, Accra, Ghana