El Anatsui has just been announced the winner of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 56th International Art Exhibition for 2015. He will receive the award at the awards ceremony and inauguration of the 56th International Art Exhibition in Venice on May 9th 2015.
The decision was made by the Board of Directors of la Biennale chaired by Paolo Baratta upon recommendation by Okwui Enwezor, Curator of the 56th International Art Exhibition.
El Anatsui born 1944 in Anyako , Ghana is another African recipient of the prestigious award from the biggest art exhibition organizers in Europe. Malick Sidibe from Soloba Mali received same award at the 52nd International Art Exhibition 2007. The closest for Nigeria is the Honourable Mention given to legendary artist Bruce Onobrakpeya at the 44th International Art Exhibition.
According to Okwui Enwezor in his submission to the Board of Directors of la Biennale, “El Anatsui is perhaps the most significant living African artist working on the continent today. The award I am recommending him is an important honour to an artist who has contributed immensely to the recognition of contemporary African artists in the global arena. It is also a worthy recognition of the originality of Anatsui’s artistic vision, his long-term commitment to formal innovation, and his assertion through his work of the place of Africa’s artistic and cultural traditions in international contemporary art. The Golden Lion Award acknowledges not just his recent successes internationally, but also his artistic influence amongst two generations of artists working in West Africa. It is also an acknowledgement of the sustained, crucial work he has done as an artist, mentor and teacher for the past forty-five years”.
El Anatsui has lived and worked at the university town of Nsukka in Nigeria since 1975. He was Professor of Sculpture and Departmental Head at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. His sculptures have been collected by major international museums including the British Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi, Osaka Foundation of Culture, Osaka and many other prestigious institutions. His installations has provoked wide international attention in recent years, with institutions and audiences fascinated and mesmerized by the materials used for his works especially the ones made from thousands of aluminium bottle tops.
This is an honour for Ghana as well as Nigeria and the entire West African countries.