Scaled up sights

El Anatsui’s monumental artwork is in Doha and you have to pay a visit

Scaled up sights

Africa’s most prominent living artist El Anatsui’s exhibition has just opened in Doha and it’s his largest ever survey-mounted work.  El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale officially opened at Mathaf and even if you’re not an art lover, you will appreciate this particular exhibit.

As the exhibition title suggests, the survey, curated by the late Okwui Enwezor, poet, art critic, art historian and curator and Chika Okeke-Agulu, professor of Art History at the Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, focuses on the triumphant and monumental quality of El Anatsui’s sculptures.

The artist’s illustrious 50-year career has seen some phenomenal works including the signature bottle cap series developed over the last two decades, wood sculptures and wall reliefs spanning the mid ’70s to the late ’90s, ceramic sculptures of the late ’70s, as well as drawings, prints and books. This exhibition, which is spread across ten separate gallery spaces in Mathaf, encompasses all that.

There’s a specially created installation in the gallery’s performance space entitled Logoligi Logarithm. Structurally related to his 2010 work Gli (Wall), you can observe a transparent form, which is achieved through the stitching patterns developed by Anatsui and his assistants using thin bottle cap seals. Logoligi Logarithm’s alluring play of light and material resembles the refraction of sunlight in mist or fog. The work is dedicated to the Ghanaian poet, Atukwei Okai, who died in 2018.

The monumental works also carry a lot of meaning, as generated by the artist. For instance, the bottle caps come from European currencies during the era of transatlantic slavery and colonisation and the process of combining thousands of these bottle caps together conveys a meaningful message of interconnection and the making of human communities.

If there’s one reason to visit, it’s the sheer scale of his work. El Anatsui has consistently worked to transform the formal possibilities of African sculptural idioms. Over 50 years, he has repeatedly revised and reinvented his material and compositional techniques. From the early smaller wooden reliefs with their incised markings and broken ceramic forms, to the monumental outdoor cement sculptures, and, more recently, the vast and spectacular metal wall and floor works, his work blurs the boundaries between sculpture, painting and assemblage. 
Free. Until Jan 31. Sat-Thu 9am-7pm, Fr 1.30pm-7pm. Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art, Education City, Al Luqta Street,

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