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Last evening was the opening of the blockbuster traveling retrospective exhibition El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale at the Kunstmuseum Bern, in Switzerland. Triumphant Scale consists of various technical explorations made by the artist, dating from the 1970s to today. A selection of different mediums is presented in this retrospective, ranging from Anatsui's monumental assemblage sculptures created out of recycled-found items, wooden and ceramic sculptures, plates, works on paper, and prints.

The retrospective exhibition is the most extensive survey of Anatsui's work presented in Europe. Done in collaboration with the Haus der Kunst in Munich (-where the exhibition started last year), currently on show at the Kunstmuseum Bern, and it will travel to Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha and close at the Guggenheim Bilbao before the end of this year.

Over five decades, El Anatsui's works act as a marriage between technical materiality and conceptual exploration, ranging from Africa's colonial history, the negative aspects of globalization, consumerism, and environmental issues. Even though Anatsui does not offer any interpretations of his sculptural installations, his work provides links in the evolving narrative of memory and identity. He has said many times that "Art is a reflection on life. It's in constant flux... Art grows out of each particular situation, and I believe that artists are better off working with whatever their environment throws up". His iconic sculptural assemblage artworks, reminiscent of tapestries, are created out of recycled-found materials such as bottle caps, tin cans, and other discarded objects. The artist employs thousands of helpers and as a small community, united they rework the many pieces of recycles pieces that are then joined together by wire into the monumental wall-hanging assemblage installations.

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At Weng Contemporary, we are excited to inform you that we will be offering El Anatsui's shimmering Gold Band, which was created earlier this year. This limited edition of 12 is the largest printed work that has been created by the artist entirely in metal. Hand-cut and hand-sculpted, the sections are carefully riveted together with copper wire.

Anatsui's exploration of metal started before the turn of the century, in late 1997. According to Anatsui, sculpting with metal offers him the possibility to manipulate the mass and matter as well as allows him to explore the positive and negative space forming. This metallic hand-cut and hand-sculpted editions are referencing Anatsui's iconic Gawu series, which in Ewe; a Niger-Congo language, means “metal hanging” or “metal cloak”. The patterns draw links to Western and non-Western ornaments, among ethnic Ghanaian textiles (kente, a traditional clothing fabric previously reserved for high-ranking men), Byzantine mosaics, and Indo-Islamic tile pieces

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We are currently accepting interest in this limited edition and will be able to provide more information upon request.

El Anatsui
Gold Band
, 2020
Hand sculpted and formed UV cured acrylic resin
inkjet on aluminum with irregular hand-cut edges and copper wire
Edition of 12
Approximately 152 x 152 x 10,2 cm (60 x 60 x 4 in.)
In mint condition

Questions? Click on the LiveAssistance button
Or send us an email at info@wengcontemporary.com
WhatsApp/WeChat: +41 76 541 56 58

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Koons had an epiphany when he first saw the swan’s two-dimensional form on the computer as for the artist it represents at the same time male and female aspects. The figure of the swan has always had significant personal resonance for the artist; it was one of the first sculptures Koons made at 9 years old in ceramic, for which the young artist diligently worked on to get the angle of the neck correct.

"Balloon Swan harmonizes sexual energy. If you look at it from the front, it’s totem-like and male. If you go to the side it becomes female. Balloon Swan is reminiscent of classical works, it defines beauty as sexual harmony.”
—Jeff Koons

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The iconic Balloon Dogs

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The Balloon Dog is an iconic work within the highly acclaimed Celebration series, which Jeff Koons began in the mid-1990s. The Celebration artworks reference certain times of year (holidays and birthdays) but also the celebration of the cycle of life. Balloon Dog has the profoundness of an archaic sculpture. The artist’s exacting standards are one of the most captivating aspects of Koons’s art as captured in the porcelain Balloon Dog, which simulates the mirror-polished stainless steel of the monumental sculpture with its metallic finish and then attached to a reflective porcelain plate.What else could suggest the cheer of children’s parties more eloquently than a colorful balloon, twisted into the instantly recognizable form of a dog?

The balloon dog is eternally optimistic.
—Jeff Koons

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Originally created in 2000, the floral sculpture Split-Rocker is a highly complex architectural structure covered with a million brightly colored flowers. The bicephalous piece, inspired by a rocking toy for children is divided into two parts: the “Dino” section (the head of the dinosaur) and the rocking horse section (the head of a pony).

I was always intrigued by porcelain, by both the economic and the sexual aspect of the material
—Jeff Koons

Split-Rocker is a monumental sculpture that measures more than 10 meters in height with a total surface area of 100 square meters. In 2012 Koons joins forces with porcelain manufacture Bernardaud to release a multiple version in reduced size of the monumental original Split-Rocker.

“One of the things that I’m most proud of is making work that lets viewers not feel intimidated by art, but feel that they can emotionally participate in it through their senses and their intellect and be fully engaged”.

Jeff Koons

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In Paper Kite Butterfly on Oleander, Hirst features his signature motif – the butterfly – alive in its natural surroundings, hanging from a beautiful, strikingly coloured blossom. In this, he has created an uplifting and celestial image that inspires childlike wonder in the face of such a beauty of nature. At the same time, however, it provokes fundamental questions about the meaning of life, a life which is characterized by death, and the fragility of biological existence.

“I love butterflies because when they are dead they look alive."—Damien Hirst

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The distinction between life and death, myth and medicine, is explored by the Cabinet series, as they serve as a shrine to modern pharmaceuticals.

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There is no imminent promise of salvation, no escape offered in these works. Those black pills, as in Dark Black Heaven, are as threatening as they are strangely attractive, a dark fatal allure which we already know leads to one ultimate destiny.

Hirst’s work questions the equivocal role of medicine. It can either take life and save life or destroy and restore. These pills are not a memento mori like the skulls or the butterflies. They are a symbol of resignation and alienation from life, and a fatal attraction towards death.

"It’s like God should be, the way they sell you the pills, the forms, the utopia, the hope, the cure. We’ve come a long way since quack doctors."—Damien Hirst

The pharmaceutical cabinets, as in Hirst’s work Utopia, question people´s complete reliance on medications and their power to heal, which fulfill the natural desire for immortality. However, the question is: Can drugs cure this problem, or can art?

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On the other hand, Gold tears, which is part of the Utopia series, depicts rows of shiny diamonds on shelves covered with golden foil in front of a golden-beige background. The image is an intense vision of a golden cabinet filled with diamonds, a vision often associated with glorious eternity. But as always in Hirst’s art, the ambiguity is obvious – this cabinet points to the fact that behind all the shiny glittery surfaces there might be nothing, no meaning, and no soul. And hence the desire for eternity is less a promise than a condemnation.

"I can’t understand why most people believe in medicine and don’t believe in art, without questioning either."—Damien Hirst

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