EPHREM SOLOMON TEGEGN
Ephrem Solomon Tegegn (Ethiopia, 1983) subtly criticizes the oppression of the government and the political system that promotes segregation in Ethiopia. After a visit by the state police, he adapted his powerful imagery to a more hidden symbolism of collages with Ethiopian newspaper texts from previous regimes and portraits of sad Ethiopians.
Ephrem Solomon Tegegn (Ethiopia, 1983) graduated from Graphics Art Entoto TVET College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2009. He works with mixed techniques and makes engravings and woodcuts on plywood. According to Solomon, the role of an artist is to document the spirit of the times. He observes his environment and shares his views on the city of Addis Ababa and people around him in Ethiopia, always pushing the boundaries of freedom of expression when it comes to open social criticism.
He subtly criticizes the political system and the role of the Ethiopian government towards its nationals. Through hidden symbolism he makes socio-political collages with Ethiopian newspaper texts (in the Amharic language) from previous regimes and portraits of everyday Ethiopians. The portraits are sad, neutral and distorted, just like in the real world where there is no perfection.
Solomon investigates origins, identity and boundaries. ‘We all come from the same source, the oldest human skeleton was found in Ethiopia. Yet people want to set boundaries and categorize them, we see it with national borders but also with classifications of people by ethnicity, which only leads to inequality, discrimination and abuse of power. We need to focus more on the community, the collective.‘
In addition to everyday Ethiopia, he explores a fictional world that exists outside the present: a reality that is free from limitations. Solomon uses a lot of black and white and repetitive shapes. He defines life as contradictions and repetitions. Solomon: “Day and night, sad and happy, winning and losing; it is the same. I can see colors in the world, but at the same time it’s all black and white. Life is full of repetitions in the here and now.”
John Kamicha never went to art school but learned all he knows about art from his father who was a famous artist in Nairobi. “I felt like I was in a palace, I had good quality brushes and paint and everything. I didn’t like going to school, so I focused fully on art. It has always been this way; it was not even a conscious choice. What I’ve always liked about art is that it doesn’t have limitations.”
In his series ‘Kenyan soldiers’ he pays tribute to a hundred Kenyan soldiers who died fighting in proxy wars. Kamicha explains: ‘I want to experiment and research what happens in Kenyan society. That’s what art is about for me: questioning things, not about adopting a style. I want to wake people up. Why keep quiet and pretend ignorance? ‘
Questioning societal assumptions is an important drive in Kamicha’s art. He observes human behaviour and focuses on taboos such as sexual identity, prostitution and critical questions about Christianity. Kamicha started to think about Jesus as a human being and the life he had lived. He became fascinated and wanted to explore this phenomenon in his art so started to question assumptions about religion.
As a reaction to people worshipping images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, he started to make collages of posters. For example, he used Leonardo da Vinci’s painting ‘The Last Supper’ as a basis for a collage. Kamicha explains: ‘Nobody questions the image itself! Leonardo just came up with an image of Jesus and now everyone is copying this and believes this is what Jesus looked like. I played with this image and it’s my own fantasy, not that I am trying to tell the truth, but people should be open and discuss these things. Nobody has copyright on the bible!’ In his collage series he depicts Jesus and the Virgin Mary with explicit sexual connotations and unambiguous titles.
Pamela Enyonu (1985) is a Kampala, Uganda based artist. Her career started with a 3-month residency at 32 Degrees East in Kampala where she navigated the politics of identity, trauma and healing.
As a mixed media artist, Pamela is inspired by stories, materials and the process it takes to transform them into works of art. She explores narratives on gender, identity, empowerment and self-awareness while working in different media.
Enyonu describes herself as a maker. She believes that one cannot go through the process of creating without themselves being ‘recreated’ or transformed’. “I tend to work in series which usually focus on the female form and/ or experience. I am drawn to the unseen struggles of women who are seen as strong, capable and independent”.
Pamela Enyonu studied at Kyambogo University Kampala, Uganda. She has a bachelor of Industrial Art & Design and Education and graduated in 2010. After her studies she worked as an art director in advertising until she decided to fully devote her time to her artistic practice in 2017.
From 2017 onwards Enyonu exhibited in numerous group and solo exhibitions in Congo, Israel, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda and USA. She won Mukumbya Musoke Art Prize 2018 and attended international workshops such as “Africa is the Future: The Future is Female” at Centre Soleil D’Afrique, Mali and “AtWork about Critical Thinking”, facilitated by Simon Njami through Moleskin Foundation, Uganda. And “Pushing back civic shrinking spaces” by ActionAid International, Tanzania.
Piniang (1976) graduated in 1999 from the National School of Fine Arts in Dakar, Senegal with a degree in multimedia. He also holds a degree in animation from Pictoon studio, Dakar (2001).
He uses a variety of techniques; drawing, painting and collage. Buildings, animals, chairs, words, symbols of playing cards and electric wires emerge as his work questions the city, with all its elements. These elements symbolise disorder and the lack of social responsibility shown by the Senegalese government. He addresses power, a word that has many interwoven meanings: “Chairs symbolize political power through which people are manipulated. Cables and plugs stand for electric power which we always lack in Dakar and it’s ironic; all these young people migrate to have the power to exist.”
Other symbols he uses are hands and arms sticking up with or without taking a selfie with their camera. Piniang: “A lot of people complain that they don’t have a job but they don’t want to bother to get it, that’s what I’m trying to show with these hands in my paintings and with the cats, they represent the laziness of such people who are just interested in taking selfies.” Together, this symbolizes the contrast between what people want and what they do to achieve it.
He has exhibited internationally in solo and group shows in many countries, including: Denmark, France, Kenya, Senegal, Sweden, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and the USA. His work is held in public and private collections in amongst others: France, Sweden and the USA. His work has also been exhibited in various Dak’art INN biennials.
Sambou Diouf (1975) pays homages to Senegalese masters, to his history and tradition. “I don’t know who they are, they are hidden behind a mask. We need the key to reclaim our African art history”. I am tired of the European painters like we learned at school. As he is paying homage, he humbly makes his contribution to the Senegalese art history.
Diouf lives and works in Dakar and has taken part in workshops and residency programs both locally and internationally. He has exhibited internationally including in Senegal, USA, Belgium and France.
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