The Centre for contemporary Art, Lagos is pleased to present El Anatsui:Playing with Chance to mark the 70th birthday anniversary of one of Africa’s most acclaimed contemporary artists. The exhibition is shaped primarily through archival material in an attempt to present new insights into the making of his works as well as the development of his career. Through this presentation an array of disparate materials are brought together from his studio, his study and his library including sketchbooks, drawings, letters, exhibition planning and instruction documents, books he reads, books he features in as well as brochures and exhibition publications to which he has contributed especially of Nigerian artists. Also included are a few photographs taken during his and just after his university education in Ghana, videos about him, fragments of the bottle top works ‘salvaged’ from his studio, his chainsaw wood sculptures and his early tray hangings and even a selection of his payslips from the University of Nigeria over a 36 year period. El Anatsui was a consummate teacher who made an indelible mark on his students, many of whom are now enjoying increasing national and internationally visibility. His concerted efforts in encouraging the visibility of female artists is highlighted by inviting three of his former students Nnenna Okore, Lucy Azubuike and Amarachi Okafor to participate in the exhibition.
El Anatsui, Playing with Chance acknowledges his spirit of experimentation and his creativity, and celebrates a dedicated teacher, a committed mentor, a sincere person, a generous man and a quiet leader. In her contribution to his exhibition catalogue A fateful Journey: Africa in the Works of El Anatsui, that toured in Japan 2010-2011, CCA, Lagos director Bisi Silva asserts, “He has engaged profoundly with his cultural, political and social history. He has imbued the spirituality of his forefathers. In the final analysis Anatsui stands tall before the ancestors.