The internationally acclaimed artist is best known for his lifelong practice of reimagining the conventional functionality of materials and marrying tradition techniques with his modernist aesthetic. El Anatsui’s Broken Pots series, estimated at £100,000-150,000, is amongst some of his earliest works with its first exhibition dating back to 1979 at the British council in Enugu, Nigeria. Within which, the artist’s fragmented ceramic sculptures in manganese and clay mark his debuting talent.

Bomboy, constructed of molten glass and discarded beverage bottles, is a direct early precursor to the artist’s later celebrated use of bottle tops. It is estimated at £40,000-60,000. In fact, the series bears another symbolic, poignant representation of the socioeconomic situation at the time of its creation. ‘When I made those pots,’ El Anatsui commented on the pieces, ‘Ghana’s economy was completely in tatters. I regard my process as an exhortation…things have to break in in order to start reshaping.’ This Africa Now auction flaunts the diversity in the master’s artistry.

EL_Anatsui_BomboyIn addition to Broken Pots and Bomboy, his later works, Used Towel and Untitled, show how his artistic vision has developed dramatically over the years. The aforementioned works are estimated at £50,000-80,000 and £30,000-50,000 respectively. Towards the end of the 1990s, El Anatsui was very much inspired by creation techniques with indigenous methods and he began to incorporate these crafts into his own work, which took on a distinctly Ghanaian aesthetic.

Following the artist’s impressive track record and his most recent sale in February, where Peju’s Robe, one of his unmistakable shimmering tapestries of used bottle-caps, sold for £806,500, the upcoming Africa Now auction is no doubt one to look out for. ‘

El Anatsui has been in huge demand for some time,’ said Giles Peppiatt, head of African Modern and Contemporary Art at Bonhams. ‘His iconic pieces are internationally recognisable and we now have the opportunity to bring some of his earlier, lesser-known works to light.’


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