When Anatsui learned that Nigerian liquor companies throw out the seals and bottle caps when refilling liquor bottles, the artist struck a deal for a steady source of materials. After collecting the pieces from the distillery, the artists and his assistants begin flattening the stock of bottle caps, into colorful and thin strips.
The strips are then sorted by color and shape. Using thin cooper wire, the artist begins the process of stringing the aluminum bottle cap pieces together. The massive installations can take up to two months to complete, with meticulous wiring and bending for each of the colors and patterns added to the fabric.
The resulting pieces sparkle in full color- golds, reds, and green fragments shimmer off one another. Only when examined closely do the mosaic elements betray their original use, when logos and words are visible.
Anatsui’s pieces have covered walls inside galleries, but also have been made large enough to cover the front of buildings such as the Alte National galerie in Berlin and le Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
+ El Anatsui at Jack Shainman
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