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Current Exhibitions - Jack Shainman Gallery

February 11 – March 13, 2010

Opening reception: Wednesday, February 10, 6 - 8 pm

Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of large-scale sculptures by internationally acclaimed artist El Anatsui. Several monumental wall sculptures made from thousands of discarded bottle tops, will be on view. Anatsui transforms simple materials into large shimmering forms by assembling elements into vibrant patterns with a unique visual impact. An astute observer, he composes his sculptures with meticulous orchestration, masterfully managing material and color. Here Anatsui’s palette ranges from black and red to silver and gold.

Fluidity of form is a significant quality inherent to the sculptures. As Alexi Worth from the New York Times Magazine pointed out in a recent feature on Anatsui from Spring 2009, "Their most peculiar feature is that they are physically unfixed: Anatsui insists that his hangings be draped rather than hung flat, but he doesn’t insist on draping them himself, and in fact is perfectly happy to have galleries or museums do so. He has preferences — horizontal ripples are better than vertical ones — but he doesn’t regard any particular arrangement as final. Naturally, professional curators are disconcerted by this freedom; Anatsui has little patience with their scruples. ‘'Museum people are trained not to be creative,’ Anatsui complains. ‘I find that very frustrating.’ To Storr, the provisional, shifting shape of Anatsui’s art is one of the keys to its originality. In the catalog to the coming Museum for African Art retrospective, Storr argues that Anatsui’s work ‘is fundamentally anti-monumental: it does not stand its ground. . . . Rather it takes the shape of circumstances and so epitomizes contingency.’ For Storr, that is no minor innovation: Anatsui ‘opens a new chapter in the history of sculpture.’ It’s possible that the appetite for ‘contingency’ that Storr praises is particularly African. Lisa Binder, the curator in charge of the Anatsui exhibition, points out that ‘traditional African objects, unlike European paintings and sculpture, are often highly adaptable, designed to be reused.’ Anatsui’s work brings this adaptable, unfixed quality into sculptural practice — as jazz brought an African ‘unfixedness’ into Western music.'"

El Anatsui was born in Anyako, Ghana in 1944, and holds degrees in sculpture and art education from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. He is Professor of Sculpture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he has lectured since 1975. His work has been exhibited extensively in international solo and group exhibitions, including the 1990 and 2007 Venice Biennales, the 1995 Johannesburg Biennale, the 2004 Gwangju Biennale, Prospect.1 New Orleans in 2008, and the 2009 Sharjah Biennale. A solo show, Gawu, traveled throughout Europe, North America, and Asia. His work is in numerous public and private collections throughout the world including The British Museum, London; The Centre Pompidou, Paris; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City. Most recently, Anatsui created an installation on-site at Rice Gallery at Rice University, Houston, TX, on view through March 14.

A major retrospective of Anatsui's work, When I Last Wrote to You About Africa, curated by Lisa Binder from the Museum for African Art, New York, begins a North American tour at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, on October 2, 2010, followed by its presentation at the Museum for African Art, New York, as one of the inaugural exhibitions at the museum's new building.

This is El Anatsui's second solo exhibition at Jack Shainman Gallery. A hardcover catalogue is available.

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm. For additional information and photographic material please contact the gallery at Upcoming exhibitions at the gallery include Ross Rudel and Todd Hebert opening March 18, on view through April 17, 2010, and Lynette Yiadom Boakye and Carrie Mae Weems opening April 22 on view through May 22, 2010.

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