To coincide with the 245th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Arts
Summer Exhibition, the celebrated artist El Anatsui will adorn the façade of Burlington House with one of the largest wall-hanging sculptures he has ever created.
Throughout his career El Anatsui has worked with many different media, including wood, paint, clay, metal and found materials, and has garnered much international acclaim for a range of spectacular site-based installations. This large-scale bespoke piece, created for the Royal Academy, measures 15m x 23m and is entitled TSIATSIA - searching for connection. It will hang from the balustrade of Burlington House for the duration of the Summer Exhibition. The sculpture will be an intricate, shimmering, metallic wall-hanging created from aluminium bottle-tops, printing plates and roofing sheets, amongst other materials.
For the Royal Academys sculpture, El Anatsui was inspired by the idea of a blank canvas that represents the limitless opportunities of what an artist can portray and what an artwork could become. The artist comments, More than ten years after first developing this medium, I now realise that its something endless. Like a painter who spends his entire career using just one medium, I feel I could spend the rest of my career using only bottle-tops, because theres an open-ended sense of freedom present in this medium. The amazing thing about working with these metallic fabrics is that the poverty of the materials used in no way precludes the telling of rich and wonderful stories.
The Summer Exhibition continues to be the worlds largest open submission contemporary art show, providing a platform for both emerging and established artists to showcase their work to an international audience. The galleries will present over 1,000 exceptional artworks, many of which will be previously unseen by the public, comprising painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, architecture and film. The funds raised from the Summer Exhibition support the Royal Academy
El Anatsui is an internationally acclaimed artist, whose sculptural experiments with media and form have pushed the definition of sculpture itself. In particular, his instantly recognisable metal wall-hangings continue to receive widespread recognition and interest.
Throughout a distinguished forty-year career as both sculptor and teacher he was Professor of Sculpture and Departmental Head at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka El Anatsui has addressed a wide range of social, political and historical concerns, and embraced an equally diverse range of media and processes. Using anything from chainsaws and welding torches to his intricate and meditative 'sewing' process, he has shaped materials ranging from cassava graters and railway sleepers to driftwood, iron nails and obituary notice printing plates.
High profile installation pieces have included Fresh and Fading Memories (2007) that draped the ancient Palazzo Fortuny during the 52nd Venice Biennale and in 2010, Ozone Layer (2010), embellished the Grecian columns of Germanys Old National Gallery in Berlin. His largest installation to date Broken Bridge, covered the frontal façade of the Musée Galliera during the Paris Triennale in 2012 and has currently been reinstalled as Broken Bridge II, between West 21st and West 22nd Streets along New Yorks High Line. El Anatsuis sculptures have also been collected by major international museums, such as the British Museum, London, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, the de Young Museum, San Francisco, the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, the Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, the Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of
Modern Art, (MoMA), New York. El Anatsui is represented by October Gallery, London.