« Shard Song », open until May 31, 2022, is the latest exhibition by Ghanaian contemporary artist El Anatsui to initiate the launch of Efiɛ Gallery‘s most memorable location in Dubai.
Curated by Mae-Ling Lokko and innovatively coordinated by photographer Aida Muluneh, « Shard Song » highlights a series of new wooden sculptures that review El Anatsui’s previous practice in the field and his ongoing development, complemented by a series of bottle cap works.
The cork that has been commonly resurrected in El Anatsui‘s work to allude to the key solidarity of a disordered section, a lost part, or a cut piece that has been produced by a process of breaking or splitting.
El Anatsui presents through his art the possibility that the authentic character of anything is manifested in the way it breaks or remains intact, as indicated by the examples of its construction and the strength of its bonds.
Regardless, the works in the « Shard Song » exhibition offer a deeper meaning of reconnection in the aftermath of injury that brings the family relationship into the world of shared wounds.
At the turn of every investigation in the artist’s excursion, whether it be the use of clay, wood, material, glass, metal, it is this material transformation of the shard and its relationship to design that continues to offer the world one more overlooked point or quality in the overall complex history of fracture and connection.
Focusing the « Shard Song » exhibition on El Anatsui‘s wooden works after 24 years of homage to his suspended metal designs might seem like a reunion with a close friend. Yet the artist’s relationship with wood has never wavered, steadily developing since the late 1960s, fully embracing and deciphering illustrations from various media to advance the opportunity that presents itself in his new wooden figures.
Sixty years after his most memorable research, El Anatsui has begun to master the transient and dynamic quality and flexibility he has created with earthen materials.
The test of bendability results in a wide range of small, rich, geographic minor deviations from the outer layer of half-inch thick wood planks. Obvious examples at three sides to liquid explosions dispersing in space.
Cut, burned, sanded and brushed by the human hand, the support is quietly molded. El Anatsui uses the power of time, rest and restored vision, over and over again, to capture the plane of the moment and the response of the question to the drive.
Here, the edge wound of each piece of wood is skillfully controlled, its full length uncovered and comes into contact with that of the work immediately following. This ingestion through touch and vicinity allows for the actuation and illumination of how the material wood is molded and altered in the long run. Somewhat like a continually developing riddle, nothing is fixed simultaneously and no connection between modules is unthinkable until a reasonable language of connection emerges between them.
If one seeks to investigate the subtleties of the language of splintering in El Anatsui‘s work, it is here that the language of injury is operated in a stunning manner.
The magic of his works lies in this multi-modular, multi-planar experience, what appears to be calm from one perspective, is at the same time discovered as passing through dramatic outcomes conceivable because of the power.
Different planes of development are noticed at any given time from the heights of the models, producing fluctuating levels of depth in these layered organizations and it is this unconscious fumbling with varying conditions that allows us to notice the developing rhythm of the artist’s uncensored opportunity.
Imbued with the language and type of pieces, the powers of fracture and their environmental elements, El Anatsui moves away from the distinctly splendid and striking tones animated by the material practices of Kente to more apparent shifts of variety. Perhaps this dabbling in tone is a reaction to the variety of Ghanaian tropical wood itself.
The adjustment of scale and the play of apparent tones in the new wooden figures cooperate in a better approach to summon an obviously liberating soul.
The light that gathers the air particles is uncovered in an apparent festival of variety, and the range of tones of the rainbow is disseminated in liquid explosions of blue and red. At the size of shards less than an inch in size, the figures begin a discussion with each other. Between the symmetrical, high density examples and the more dissipative nature of particles and space, a range of softness of example is created.
The exhibition « Shard Song » is coordinated into three zones that temper the guest’s excursion from an energetic and public edge to a peaceful and private interior shelter. Motivated by Ghanaian patio dwelling patterns, which intervene in the appearance of a person in a public field, the flow of the presentation begins with two support areas in which her metal figures are suspended.
These suspended metal models offer a significant link between the development of El Anatsui‘s sculpture and address the limited scope details implanted in his wooden figures.
In these open-air areas, the experience of the splendid light glinting off the vivid hues of the metal figures stands in stark contrast to the dark and grave indoor area where the wooden models are presented.
As a reminder, El Anatsui’s « Shard Song » exhibition is open until May 31, 2022 at Efiɛ Gallery in Dubai.