El Anatsui (Ghanaian, born 1944) 'Sacred Secrets Unfolding'
Lot 15*
El Anatsui
(Ghanaian, born 1944)
'Sacred Secrets Unfolding'
£40,000 - 60,000
US$ 62,000 - 94,000

Lot Details
El Anatsui (Ghanaian, born 1944)
'Sacred Secrets Unfolding'
signed and dated 'EL 06' (sixth piece from right); signed again 'EL' (seventh piece from right)
carved wood relief with acrylic
61 x 188cm (24 x 74in).
in nineteen pieces

Footnotes

  • El Anatsui began his artistic training at the College of Art, University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, where he was given a grounding in Western art traditions and practices. Feeling this education to be lacking, he began to visit the Kumasi National Cultural Centre on weekends. Here he was exposed to weavers, potters, cloth-printers and carvers, all working in indigenous methods.

    Sacred Secrets Unfolding demonstrates the artist's attempt to express his Ghanaian identity through these native disciplines. Each plank of wood has been scored with geometrical shapes and symbols: many of these are Adinkra emblems. In the Akan oral tradition, these Adinkra symbols were a way of communicating knowledge and truths about life and the environment.

    However, this piece is not a rejection of the modern. The planks of wood have been cut with a chainsaw, and blackened with an acetylene torch. For El Anatsui, the chainsaw has symbolic significance: the tearing of the saw through wood is "a metaphor for the way in which the western powers had carved up and brutally divided the African continent amongst themselves, ripping through and destroying both local history and culture".

    We can therefore see Sacred Secrets Unfolding as an attempt to reclaim that lost history, using the traditional media of its people.

    BIBLIOGRAPHY
    J.Picton, El Anatsui: A Sculpted History of Africa, (London, 1995), pp.34-36.
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