A splatter of blue ink drips across a shimmering silver surface. From the far side of the gallery this work looks like a painterly abstraction but on closer inspection we can see that this is not ink at all! ‘Ink Splash 2’ is really an assemblage made up of seals taken from alcohol bottles which have then been sewn together using copper wire to create a large metallic sheet. The work is unframed and has been displayed so that it drapes down the gallery wall like a curtain. The undulations, folds and protrusions are sculptural elements which help the work to come to life in the gallery. The piece was made by Ghanian artist El Anatsui. Based in Nigeria he makes sculptural works which reuse materials from his local surroundings. The chosen materials are symbolic of time and place and can be seen as commenting on consumerism, globalisation and the environment. His use of found materials also highlight the practise of reuse as a necessity for everyday survival.
‘Ink Splash 2’ marks a break through in El Anatsui’s work by seeking to explore multiple physical possibilities in a single work of art. By combining elements of both painting and sculpture the work has helped to break traditional categorizations of art and redefine the art object. El Anatsui defines himself as both a painter and sculptor. He was awarded a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale in 2008.
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