El Anatsui Wins Venice Biennale Golden Lion
by Ladun Ogidan
Leading contemporary Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui has been named winner of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 56th Venice Biennale. The Nigeria-based artist will receive the award on May 9, 2015 at ca’ giustinian, the historic headquarters of la biennale di venezia during the inauguration of the biennale.
This decision was made by the biennale’s Board of Directors upon the recommendation of Okwui Enwezor, curator of this year’s biennale. “El Anatsui is perhaps the most significant living African artist working on the continent today. The award for which I am recommending him is an important honor 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 acknowledgment of the sustained, crucial work he has done as an artist, mentor and teacher for the past forty-five years.”
Recent events show a significant growth in the visibility of African art on the global art scene. In 2013, first-time exhibitor Angola was awarded the Golden Lion for the best national pavilion in the 55th edition of the biennale. In addition, this year Okwui Enwezor was appointed the first African director of the Venice Biennale.
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