El Anatsui Kente Rhapsody
Lot 70*
El Anatsui (Ghanaian, born 1944) Kente Rhapsody
Sold for £21,600 (US$ 36,305) inc. premium
Lot Details
El Anatsui (Ghanaian, born 1944)
Kente Rhapsody
signed 'EL' and dated '02' (upper right)
tropical hardwoods and tempera
133 x 151cm (52 3/8 x 59 7/16in).
in eighteen pieces (18)


  • El Anatsui has established himself as Africa's most significant modern sculptor. Chosen to represent the continent of Africa at the 1990 Venice Biennale, he became one of the first sub-Saharan African artists to exhibit at this prestigious event.

    In these early works, El Anatsui uses the chainsaw and other power tools for much of his work. To him, the tools' frightening ability to tear through wood becomes a metaphor for the way in which the western powers carved up and divided the African continent, ripping through and destroying both indigenous culture and the local histories dependent upon it. He employs the common idioms and grammar of contemporary western art at the same time as actively undermining them by introducing and juxtaposing ideas, techniques and material from never-yet-subjugated areas that lie far beyond the pale of western art.

    The traditional kente cloth of Ghana provides a theme that runs through much of El Anatsui's work. The narrow-strip woven cloth is a source of pride and a receptacle for many cultural memories in Ghana and throughout West Africa.

    A similar work of the same title currently hangs in the Sainsbury African Galleries at the British Museum, London.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that the pieces of this sculpture are incorrectly ordered in the catalogue illustration. The correct order can be seen online or in person at the sale exhibition.
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