At the age of 73, and after a fifty-year career, crowned with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 56th Venice Biennale, Anatsui has found a new source of inspiration in the residual marks and traces of his own art practice and has poured all his energies into exploring these newfound possibilities.
Anatsui’s metal wall sculptures are worked on by a team of assistants who crush, fold and pierce the bottle-tops on tables and on smaller flats of wood. The repetitive and relentless force exerted on these surfaces over many years has resulted in a landscape of textured relief embedded in the worktops. These wooden surfaces were delivered to the studios of Factum Arte together with some bottle-top off-cuts and cassava graters that had been used in earlier works, to serve as the primary source materials for this new series of prints.
The tabletops and wooden boards were 3-D scanned at a very high resolution, routed onto aluminium plates and then printed through an etching press. Black ink was used to access the textural information held both in the intaglio and on the surface; others were worked upon in colour, while others still with chine collé laminates. The artist played with endless combinations and permutations of the resulting prints to create these syntheses. An overlapping pair of prints from one circular tray prompted the artist to imagine a lunar eclipse, resulting in the first completed set of thirteen pieces, named the Eclipse Suite, after the thirteen cycles of the moon. Elsewhere, the bottle-top off-cuts and cassava graters were inked up and printed raw, both on their own and in conjunction with the printed tabletops. For one particularly direct work, coloured ink was laboriously dabbed onto dampened Japanese paper overlaying a large and highly textured tabletop, producing a detailed relief print that bears witness to many years of accumulated mark-making.
Factum Arte - Based in Madrid, London and Milan, Factum Arte consists of a team of artists, technicians and conservators dedicated to digital mediation - both in the production of works for contemporary artists and in the production of facsimiles as part of a coherent approach to preservation and dissemination. Over the past few years, Factum Arte has worked with The Musée du Louvre, The British Museum, The Pergamon Museum, Museo del Prado, Biblioteca Nacional Madrid, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt and many other museums, institutions and private individuals.