He is a painter
He experiments with:
-Ghanaian geometric and color symbologies
-the adaptation and transposition of ancestral mask shapes
-Akan classical icons (ethnic group in Ghana and West Africa)
-petroglyphs (rock art)
Rikki uses " visual imagery to deal with mystical realities of the African spiritual world; the thoughts of my people: their philosophies, sensibilities and values, their mode of worship, that which they believe in and which guides their day to day living." [excerpt from artist statement]
Early on in his career he worked with clay and wood. He worked with cutting wood with chainsaws and blackened them. Later in his career he began making large scale sculptors that resembled kente clothe. He uses recycled materials to create the sculptors. I find his work stunning. Rarely do artist transcend the material limitations of trash. El Anatsui found object sculptors transform into a whole new realm of visuals.
Art grows out of each particular situation, and I believe that artists are better off working with whatever their environment throws up.
- El Anatsui, 2003
This artwork is a modern interpretation of kente cloth from Ghana. It is made up of hundreds of metal bottleneck wrappers, stitched together with copper wire.