A spectacular site-specific installation by the Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui has been unveiled at Tate Modern in London, becoming the latest in an impressive array of solo museum shows opening across the capital in time for Frieze week. The latest Turbine Hall commission, is the artist’s largest ever indoor artwork.
Based between Ghana and Nigeria, the 79-year-old artist has become a globally recognized star for his monumental textile-style sculptural hangings made of used bottle caps, which he began in the late 1990s. These ubiquitous objects recycled from the real world inevitably represent consumption and waste, but also provide a way for Anatsui to refer to geopolitics and how commodities are shipped to Africa via a network of age-old colonial trade routes. Like all his work, this latest installation amazes with its sheer scale while also inviting viewers to delight in its myriad details.
Divided into three parts, the visitor encounters the first piece as they enter the museum. Its rich red rendition of a “blood moon,” only visible during a total lunar eclipse, appears to billow like a sail in the wind. After this comes , in which ethereal forms intended to evoke human figures—or perhaps, spirits—swirl around each other in a sphere. Finally, is a breathtaking work called , a sheet of black metal cloth that cascades and ripples from a staggering height. The eye is guided across its vast expanse by a smattering of shimmering patterns, and viewers who venture behind will be met by a multi-colored mosaic on the reverse.
“Anatsui is one of the most distinctive artists today. His highly innovative approach to sculpture and his unique choice of materials are instantly recognizable.” said Tate Modern’s new director Karin Hindsbo at the press conference on Monday, October 9. “He has responded to [the Turbine Hall] with remarkable ambition. His three extensive abstract compositions made from countless metal bottle tops and fragments dramatically cut through this huge space and transform it anew.”
Each year, Tate’s Turbine Hall commission makes use of its vast post-industrial, hangar-like entrance to stage large-scale sculptural works, and Anatsui’s will remain on display through April 14, 2024.
Check out more photos of the installation below.
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