Spaces to visit for anything and everything Art!

The contemporary art scene in Ethiopia is growing and thriving.  Dynamic and diverse, teeming with extraordinary talented and passionate artists using their work to reflect the countries’s cultural diversity, natural beauty and long history. Although formal exhibition spaces still remain limited, there are a growing number of exceptional independent art galleries and art villages exhibiting and selling diverse works of art. Here are some of these art spaces.

 

ADDIS FINE ART to Launch New Gallery 

Addis Fine Art announces the opening of a new gallery space in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Set for launch this November, with a prime location in the heart of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Fine Art will be the hub for an innovative programme of exhibitions, talks and events showcasing modern and contemporary artists from Ethiopia and the diaspora.



Zoma Contemporary Art Center (ZCAC) is an eco-sensitive and educational artist-in-residence village. Co-founded by curator and anthropologist Meskerem Assegued and one of today's most original Ethiopian artists Elias Sime, ZCAC was listed as one of the top places to visit in 2014 by New York Times. The concept was first introduced to the public in 2002 during Giziawi #1, its first art happening. Named after Zoma Shifferaw, a young Ethiopian artist who died of cancer in 1979, ZCAC is located in two major cities in Ethiopia. ZCAC Addis is situated in an extraordinary house made from mud, straw and stone - designed and sculpted by Sime - representing the centre’s philosophy of driving environmental sustainability through art, and ZCAC Harla is in Harla, a small historic village east of Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. ZCAC is run much like a family where the surrounding community is an extension of the center. 

The focus of ZCAC’s work is the promotion of multidisciplinary contemporary art, international exchange between artists, and the conception and implementation of sustainable, innovative, and environmentally conscious art projects. With its residency programs designed around different themes (architecture, landscape design, art, documentary film, and education), ZCAC provides Ethiopian and international artists the opportunity to live in harmony with nature, develop new forms of artistic expression, experiment with new techniques and materials, and to find alternative, artistic, and creative solutions to current environmental problems. Another important component of ZCAC’s activities is the establishment of an ongoing educational program with international partner institutions. Since 2002, the center has been regularly hosting educational events, such as workshops at the School of Fine Arts with renowned artists - David Hammons from New York and Ernesto Novelo from Mexico. With the support of Alliance éthio-française and the British Council, ZCAC has also collaborated with the International Association of Art Critics. ZCAC Yucatan was initiated by Ernesto Novello after his residency at ZCAC Addis in 2007, it is now a thriving art center in Yucatan, Mexico. 

The Culture Trip lists ZCAC in its Ultimate Guide to Africa's 10 Best Contemporary Art Galleries”. See dettails in http://theculturetrip.com/africa/articles/the-ultimate-guide-to-africa-s-10-best-contemporary-art-galleries/

Visit ZCAC website 

For appointment please contact ZCAC at
zcac@zcac.net / meski1111@hotmail.com

 

Netsa (which means free in Amharic) Arts Village was established in 2008 by eleven graduates of Addis Ababa University’s School of Fine Arts and Design with the aim of promoting contemporary art in Ethiopia and giving emerging artists a platform for exchange, discussion and debate on all issues related to art; to stimulate the quality, development and context of contemporary art practice in Ethiopia.

 

 

The city of Addis Ababa supports the project by allowing artists to use part of Ferensay Park, a large urban green space. With the support of the Addis Ababa Goethe-Institute, a dome-shaped structure was built to house various art events. Netsa Arts Village provides Ethiopian artists with a forum for networking, communication, and dynamic exchange. Concerts, readings, video presentations, discussions, and exhibitions bring artists and the local communities together, celebrating examples of good art-practices, creating a living museum of contemporary art. Several projects, many of them interdisciplinary, involve youths from socially disadvantaged neighborhoods, such as the photo-based exploration of urban space organized by Leyikun Nahusenay. Netsa Arts Village is almost entirely financed by the artists themselves, but also cooperates and is supported by different networks for contemporary art such as the Triangle Network,  Kuona Trust, ASNI GalleryTownhouse Gallery, and Arts Collaboratory.

Address: Near French Embassy Inside Ferensay Park, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia/ +251911941678/ +251916585758/ netsaartvillage@gmail.com/ www.netsaartvillage.org

 

In 2001, five young Ethiopian contemporary artists - Dawit Abebe, Girmachew Getnet, Mathias Lulu, Workneh Bezu and Yoseph Lule founded Habesha Art Studio - what is to be their working studio as well as exhibition space. With four distinctive styles, Habesha Studio offers much to behold for art collectors and enthusiasts. 

Dawit Abebe’s works are presently part of Saatchi Gallery's Pangaea II: New Art from Africa and Latin America (March to September 2015). Dawit graduated from the Addis Ababa University School of Fine Art and Design with a diploma in painting, sculpture, graphics, photography and industrial design; and has been been a full-time artist in residence at the Habesha Art Studio since 2001. His solo exhibitions include Background 2 at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London (2015), Background 1 at Lela Gallery, Addis Ababa (2014), and X Privacy at the Alliance Ethio-Française, Addis Ababa (2012). Group exhibitions include Concerning The Internal at Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi (2015), Visibles/Invisibles at Fondation Blachere, Apt (2015), the touring Silver Sea Cross-Ship (2013-14) and the display of the Habesha Art Collection at the National Museum in Addis Ababa (2014), as well as exhibitions in France, the UAE and the USA. Dawit’s work continues to gain international recognition. In 2014, one of his works from Abebe's X Privacy series sold for double its estimate at a major auction of East African art in Nairobi, Kenya.

Girmachew Getnet, graduate of the Addis Ababa University Alle School of  Fine Arts and Design (2001), enjoys a vast repertoire in both local as well as international art scene - Ethiopia, Germany, Sweden, Czech Republic, USA and Kenya. In 2005, Girmachew was invited by Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz (Germany) to organize the art exhibition Wall and Canvas  that  featured contemporary and traditional wall paintings from Ethiopia. In 2007, Girmachew was involved in the celebrations for the Ethiopian Millennium (2007 corresponded to year 2000 in the Ethiopian calander) by the Grassi Museum, Leipzig (Germany), where he organized the art exhibition and showcased his  experimental short film Free Space - this short film have been screened in different venues and festivals in Europe and Ethiopia. Today, the artist lives and works in his own studio in Germany.

 

By Dawit Abebe 

By Dawit Abebe 

By Mathias Lulu

By Mathias Lulu

By Girmachew Getnet

By Girmachew Getnet

Workneh Bezu was destined to follow his passion for art and enrolled at the prestigious Addis Ababa University School of Fine Art and Design, where he says, he was privileged to study under and be mentored by some of the masters of Ethiopian painting and sculptor. For Workneh, art quickly became his life, a medium through which he was able to channel his passion and dreams. Receiving formal training gave Workneh the techniques and academic skills he needed to bring his dreams to reality. Workneh experiments with different artistic forms and has become one of the pioneers of children’s puppet and short animation films in Ethiopia. Included in his creations are rug puppets, paintings in oil and watercolors, sculptures and graphics art. Workeneh has shown his works in more than 20 exhibitions in Ethiopia and internationally. (You can browse and shop Workneh's work here). 

 

By Workneh Bezu

By Yoseph Lule

 

Yosef Lule graduated from Addis Ababa University of Fine Arts School in 2001. Images of clothes laid out to dry on the hills surrounding Addis Ababa have that he encounters on his walks has been sources of inspiration and subjects of many of his works - rich in color, often greens and yellows, with vertical lines defining women and pastoralists in expansive natural settings and celebrating all seasons. His travels to Egypt, Zanzibar, Spain and France has also left impressions on his creativity and found their way onto his oil on canvas paintings.  Yosef’s artworks, originally figurative, have become more and more abstract in recent years.

Matias Lulu is also a fellow graduate of the Addis Ababa University School of Fine Arts and Design (2001). Mathias translates his perception and feelings about life into shape and form through his daily discipline of painting. He first began with a figurative approach to painting but has since moved onto a more self-expressive and bolder mode of working. His inspirations come from his internal feelings and concerns for the human life. Matias believes that any life is composed of the four elements: water, earth, wind and fire, and makes sure that such components are reflected in his works. Tragically, Matias Lulu passed away in 2013 after suffering from a brain hemorrhage. He has always said, “Art is medicine. For me painting is therapeutic. It is a form of meditation. I lose my sense of direction if I don’t paint. Painting transports me to a different world. Your painting represents you and at times people discuss your work in your absence which makes you in a way still present while physically absent, that is, allowing you to be in two different places at the same time”. His presence and great talent is gravely missed by his Habesha Studio fellow artists and colleagues. 

Location: Queen Elizabeth Street, in front of Ras Amba hotel,  Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Tel:

 

The very first Art of Ethiopia exhibition was held in 2008. For over 12 years prior to that, Sheraton Addis hotel has consistently collected art works from local galleries and felt that Ethiopian artists should benefit from the exposure the hotel could give them. Hence, the birth of the annual Art of Ethiopia  - a four day exhibition that is part of the hotel's Community Outreach Program; an art event that since its inception has brought the vivacity of the Ethiopian local art scene to thousands of residents as well as international visitors. For each year's exhibition the hotel creates an art catalog that is sold to visitors and guests. All proceeds from the sale of the catalog go towards the Sheraton Addis Art Endowment Fund which supports local art schools and artistic initiatives in the city of Addis Ababa. The first sponsorship was a lithograph printing machine given to Ale School of Fine Arts & Design of the Addis Ababa University.

The show that started by showcasing the works of eight local artists in its first year, has now established Sheraton Addis as a leading patron of the country’s art scene, attracting international art lovers and buyers who now make the annual trip to Addis Ababa to view the works displayed. Over 78 artists have displayed their art in the hotel's grand ball-room Lalibela since the start of the exhibition, accounting for over 700 pieces of artworks. Organizers of Art of Ethiopia would like to see the number of women artists participating in the show grow - about one fifth of artists who showed in the 2014 exhibition were female. As a result of being featured at the Sheraton event, many young artists have gone on to launch their own solo exhibitions in the city. Art of Ethiopia strives to develop and expand the pool of Ethiopian talent - 20% of the artists who displayed thier works at last year’s exhibition did so for the first time, adding to the diversity of work on show.  

The art catalogue featuring displayed works and artists has all in itself become a collectors' item over the years.

View Art of Ethiopia Catalogue 2013 

View Art of Ethiopia Catalogues 2008 - 2012

Dates for the 2015 Art of Ethiopia is yet to be confirmed. We will bring you updates as soon as we know. Stay tuned! For more information visit 

 

 
 

 

It all started in 2005; when about 30 works by Gebre Kristos Desta - one of  Ethiopia's leading modern artists, a poet and an inspiring teacher - that had remained in Munich, Germany where the artist lived from 1978 to 1980, made their way back to Ethiopia. The German Cultural Institute (Goethe) was entrusted with the pieces but couldn’t provide the space to hold and display all of the works, causing them to disappear from the public view.

Professor Andreas Eshete, who at that time was President of the Addis Ababa University, and  other devotees of the artist decided to find a new venue that could accommodate all of the artist’s works. The answer came not in a brand new building but in the restoration of the former palace of Alga Werash Asfaw Wosen, close to the seat of the German Cultural Institute, that had been serving as public administration department of the Addis Ababa University.

The renowned Ethiopian architect Fasil Giorghis (Chair of Conservation of Urban and Architectural Heritage at the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture Building Construction and City Development), known for restoring historic buildings, designed the new museum, nearly doubling its space. The Federal Republic of Germany covered the cost of the renovation and restoration.

Thus, on October 10, 2008, the renovated and expanded Modern Art Museum named after Gebre Kristos Desta, who lived and painted from 1932 to 1981, opened its doors. 

The museum, situated in the premise of the Faculty of Business of the Addis Ababa University, is the first institutionalized space dedicated to modern art in the city. The lavish exteriors and the interiors of the building are of architectural and historical significance in themselves. They provide a rich setting for collections that cover virtually every aspect of fine arts.

The dedication engraved on the front wall of the building promises “to contribute to the intellectual and cultural life of Ethiopia as well as to host Gebre Krists Desta’s artistic achievement”. 

 

 
 

 

This permanent exhibition of Gebre Kristos's works will play a key role in positioning modern and contemporary artistic discourses. One of the museum’s missions is creating a dialogue between the past and the present in an environment that is responsive to the issues of modern and contemporary art. On its inaugural presentation, the museum featured 24 works of Gebre Kristos Desta from the 30 holdings brought from Germany as well as works of his contemporaries and disciples like Skunder Boghossian, Abdruhman Sherif, Yohannes Gedamu,Tibebe Teffa, Behailu Bezabeh, Bekele Mekonen and Bisrat Shibabaw.

 

 
Refining Nude, oil on hardboard, 98 by 81cm, 1973

Refining Nude, oil on hardboard, 98 by 81cm, 1973

 

 

Gebre Kristos did not enjoy such an enthusiastic reception from the public, critics and peers during the first years of his artistic career, quite the contrary. His overwhelming desire to study abroad was realized when he won a scholarship in 1957. From 1957 to 1961 he studied painting at the Academy of Art in Cologne, West Germany, graduating  at the top of his class. It was in Germany that he became interested in abstract painting. Among others, he was acquainted with the works of the Russian abstractionist Wassily Kandinsky.  Upon his return to Ethiopia in 1962, he introduced his art to his people in a solo show held at the School of Fine Arts in 1963, where he was also a member of the faculty. It was  at this junction that he began to face the challenges encountered by many African artists of his calibre. His art was met with criticism. His critics were quick to point out that he had come back with foreign art concepts and passed up Ethiopian traditional art opting for modern and alien forms. Gebre Kristos replied… “It is funny that people who know nothing about the history of art attach such exaggerated importance to the art of their own country. They don’t realize how international art is. Picasso could hardly have created “cubism” had he not seen African Art. Mattis was influenced by Islamic traditions. Gaugin went as fas as Tahiti to find new inspirations. We create ultra modern houses in our developing countries. We build super highways on which we drive our modern cars. We use all sorts of up-to-date technology, education, medicine. Why in the world should art be different?” (Head, 1969)

About the time of Gebre Kristos’s one-man show, in an attempt to enlighten Ethiopian “critics” who delegated abstract art as foreign to Ethiopia, art critic Solomon Deressa wrote “how much abstract can one get than the nonfigurative Ethiopian manuscript illuminations, or the steles of Axum, which are skyscrapers complete with windows and doors, but definitely closed to anyone trying to penetrate their mystery?” (Solomon, 1966-67)

 

 
Flowers No 2, oil on hardboard, 122 by 122 cm

Flowers No 2, oil on hardboard, 122 by 122 cm

Shoe Shine Boys, oil on hardboard, 120 by 100 cm, 1967

Shoe Shine Boys, oil on hardboard, 120 by 100 cm, 1967

 
 
Green Abstract, oil on canvas, 80 by 120cm, 1966

Green Abstract, oil on canvas, 80 by 120cm, 1966

 

 

Determined with the conviction that there is as much need to advance in art as in science and technology, Gebre Kristos's dedication to abstract art was a courageous act that could have only been pursued by an artist of the pioneer spirit. Indeed, this contemporary African artist had boldly introduced a new approach and a new form of expression in art to African in general, and to the Ethiopian soil in particular. He eagerly shared his view about the world; his personal experience about life; his moments of contemplation, and conversation with nature - the human misery and complexity of modern man. He wanted us to see beyond the ordinary. He created visual signals via a new language and a new medium; the symbolic meaning of which we have to learn to see, a symbol by far different from the pictorial art of the predominantly Copto-Byzantine Art form of traditional Ethiopia (Achamyeleh Debela, Gebre Kristos Desta, The Painer-Poet). 

 

Reservation, acrylic on canvas, 75 by 75 cm, 1979

Reservation, acrylic on canvas, 75 by 75 cm, 1979

 

The Gebre Kristos Desta Modern Art Museum is a fitting tribute to a man who defined modern art in Ethiopia, a beloved poet and a much admired teacher - and today his works could be found living amongst those created by generations of Ethiopian artists that came after him. More than a few of them his pupils.

The Modern Art Museum/Gebre Kristos Desta Center is found in the Addis Ababa University.