El Anatsui’s Exciting New Work Is Even More Majestic Than Ever

VIDEO: His new creations dazzle at Jack Shainman and Mnuchin Gallery.

El Anatsui is arguably the most widely recognized contemporary artist working in Africa. Known for creating majestic metal tapestries constructed from bottle caps and printing plates held together with wire, his work defies classification, instead hovering in the gray area between painting and sculpture. Two concurrent shows of new works at Jack Shainman Gallery and Mnuchin Gallery are Anatsui’s first in New York since his acclaimed 2013 solo exhibition “Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui” at the Brooklyn Museum.

While his signature style and medium has not changed, Anatsui is exploring new modes of display. “Initially, these pieces were meant not for the wall,” he told artnet News. “The first one I made was right in the middle of the studio, hung from the ceiling…. What I’m trying to do now is to create them in such a way that you don’t need to put them on the wall. [I want to] make them thick and heavy so that they can stand on their own.”

What else is new? Anatsui’s vivid palette is taking the backseat to a more minimalist aesthetic. “I’m trying to focus on some other things beyond color,” said Anatsui. “When you have a lot of color, then form is in contention with color. When you take color out, form gets priority position.”

Works by El Anatsui will be on display until November 15 at Jack Shainman Gallery and until December 13 at Mnuchin Gallery

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