Posted: May 24th, 2022
Reuse and Recycling in Art
The creativity of an artist should never be limited to the use of words to describe the things that they wish to pass to their audiences. Creativity goes beyond the word used to thinking about the best way that the society could be made better through recycling the waste materials that would be destructive to nature. What then does it mean by recycled art in history? Recycled art is creative work that is made from discarded materials that once had another value transformed into something new. Apart from the recycling of the materials being limited to the beauty of art that the artist bears in mind, there is a great benefit of environmental preservation, which contributes to the use and extends the useful life of the material, consequently reducing the amount of waste in the environment. he recycled art is the manipulation of the artist interaction with a material already potent in symbolic meaning, prompting the artist to embed a certain message of social critique. Never has such work been predominant in the works of El Anatsui of Ghana. The essay explores the understanding the El Anatsui’s work Old Man’s Cloth 2003 in his conception of recycled art to communicate a message to the audience in a varied way while preserving the environment in the process.
El Anatsui was born in Ghana, where he draws the deep artistic works that explore the Nigeria artistic world by transforming simple waste materials into complex compositions that present a distinctive visual impact to the audience. e makes his work of the typical material palette of discarded resources including the liquor bottle tops, printing plates, and cassava graters to make sculpture that transcends any artistic classifications (Adjei et al., 243). Anatsui’s choice of waste material in making the sculptures reflects his interest in recycling, transformation, and the intrinsic desire to relate with his native continent of Africa, which goes beyond the limitation of the place he does his work. Anatsui makes his work appealing to the audience because he combines the world history of abstract art with the local aesthetic traditions. Such his work of the Old Man’s cloth interrogates the legacy of colonialism that draws a link between consumption, waste reuse, and the concern for the environment (Graves 294). however, at the core of his work is the unique formal language that distinguishes his artistic practices from the other forms of art that use the new materials in their works.
Anatsui is not new in the field of reuse of materials in work, as seen in Old Man’s cloth. He is well known for the large sculptures of folded and crumpled pieces of materials sourced from local recycling points and attached together with copper wire (Donkor 204). ne of the conceptual foundations of his work is the sculpture takes different forms each time they are installed. These challenges the long-preconceived thought that sculptures must be something rigid and insistent, hence making his work stand on its own accounts. Eld Man’s cloths of Anatsui hang like a large textile, but with a close look, one realizes they are arranged with a changing grid that is striped into blocks of color. Te components form their own internal maps across the surface that mix in vertical golden bands. he interlocking black and silver rows that form a pattern with variant red pieces hanging in the middle of the black make the pieces more attractive to the audience that is the greatest intent of Anatsui.
There are chances that the old man’s cloth could have presented as construct from flattened bottles lids with the labels as per the desire of the artist. owever, there is much that transcends the individual desires of the artist when presenting the works of art to the audiences (Adjei et al., 248). natsui manipulates the materials and the colors to appeal to the emotions of the audiences by ensuring that each piece is positioned in a way that makes it exposed to the light that attracts. he brilliance that the artist depicts in his work makes the old man’s cloth pieces a humble yet original that impress. here has been a debate among the viewers over time on the pattern that Anatsui arranges the materials in his work hanging in bi-dimensional or at times tri-dimensional that makes it more of a painting than a sculpture. he critics of the work often point out that are language of textile that appeal to other artistic minds and not the ordinary audience making the work preserve of the few (Kasfir 37). he concern is why should one decide to be judgmental of the work rather than using the inner thought in realizing the message being conveyed by the artist. otably, those that critic the work for being a preserve of the few are using their artistic abilities with an assumption that non-artist cannot see the inner beauty that lies in the work. robably, even if the they may not see the artistic beauty but they would appreciate the conservative deal that the artists aim for the audience.
In attempt to wish off the limiting determinants that are imposed by the Western perspective of the artistic history works, Anatsui endeavor in the work of Old Mans cloth develops from a more expanded comprehension of what artist can prescribe as both radical attritions of the late 1960s and the view point outside the westernized traditions of the artists (Graves 299). here are particular scholars that point to the fact that such classification in the western traditions is definitive of the African native originality in the artistic traditions. oreover, the African traditions had no proper distinction on the art and craft and the other forms of often referred to as low and high arts in other European and western traditions.
In essences, Anatsui was aiming to break away from the predetermine classification in the use of the luminescent gold colors that are colonialist in presentation. t must be noted that Anatsui’s native nation, the modern Ghana was predominantly British colony that had to follow most of the British traditions (Kasfir 45). here is much that appears on the surface of the sculpture that reminds the audience of the Atlantic oceans that was the divide between native Africans and their colonizers. natsui present this work as reminder to the audience of the slave-ships that traversed the oceans with slaves from Africa, Europe and other parts of the world. t is a reminder of the textile significance in the African industry pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial regimes (Donkor 207). he Old Man’s Cloth plays the historical role of the commodities of trade that shaped the African exchange with the other parts of the world. frica was the cradle land of textile that spread world over.
Adjei, Kofi, Eric Appau Asante, and Rexford Assasie Oppong. “Exploring the concept of ceramics mixed media in Ghana.” Craft Research 8.2 (2017): 241-256.
Donkor, Godfried. The Currency of Ntoma (Fabric).” TEXTILE 16.2 (2018): 200-213.
Graves, P. Nelson. VISUAL ARTS AND INTERSECTION WITH KNOWLEDGE.” Fahsanu Journal 1.2 (2018): 290-305.
Kasfir, Sidney Littlefield. ontemporary African art: (World of Art). hames & Hudson, 2020.
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