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Photography and painting exhibition


An art show featuring acclaimed photographer Aida Muluneh and emerging painter Emanuel Tegene opened on July 5, 2012 at the Italian Cultural Institute in Addis Ababa. Entitled “The Art of memory”, the exhibit is a collection of 16 photographs and 37 paintings, produced in different times, by the artists who are now husband and wife. Aida and Emanuel pair their creations to showcase ‘an idea of our inner self, of captured moments that resonates a connection to our surroundings, of our past and our inner truths,” they wrote the in the exhibition leaflet. While the photos captures dazzling human moments, which Aida maximizes through sense of composition, the paintings reflect of the moment with highly accomplished images and rich color.


The photos bring the distinct flavor of urban and countryside back from past and recent times in astonishingly potent form. Some of the subjects captured by the photographer are ordinary scenes such as young people playing billiard, an old woman spinning cotton, giggling boys at church entrance, and a woman carrying the portrait of Mengistu Haile Mariam. Another picture has included from exotic places such as Havana where an elaborately dressed heroine looks at the photo from glorious past. Their faces reveal myriad emotions, from coyness to confusion and they come out as just a remarkable individual’s engagement with what the photographer saw. The stunning qualities of photos are the clarity of all the elements, equally sharp in the background and foreground.
Aida, who studied film at Howard University in Washington, D.C, has won several awards in international competitions over the years. She, among others, worked as a press photographer for the Washington Post covering major assignments. She was also part of the groundbreaking show “Ethiopian passages: Dialogues in the Diaspora” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C, held in 2003. In her new photography book “Ethiopia: Past /Forward (Africalila, 2009) Aida explores the country through identity, personal journey and family nostalgia after a 30-year absence.
Emanuel’s art works are distinct for their emotional depth, unique iconography, and strengths in color, and composition. Using acrylic on canvass and paper, watercolors on paper, marker on paper, oil and collage on paper, the exhibit provide an exciting survey of the artist’s works.
Emanuel, who was born and raised in Addis Ababa, loved playing football as a child. To this day he does not know where the “bizarre idea” of becoming an artist came from, though from an early age he showed a talent for drawing. His parents wanted him to pursue practical career. Yet the pull of art remained strong. He drew and visited museums regularly in his teenage years. One turning point in his artistic life was when he took part in a child art contest organized in Japan and won second prize. “It was a surprise for me. Another acquaintance of mine who was a much better painter came out third. At the same time, I was reluctant to share this news to my parents. I thought they would get angry with me,” he recalled. As much as he got a great sense satisfaction from seeing his paintings being appreciated by the public, he was apprehensive when people approached him to ask if he would sell his paintings. “I never thought my paintings would sell. The idea kind of scared me,” he said.


After finishing high school, Emanuel joined the Ale School of Fine Art and Design. While he was there, he found a job as an artist, drawing cartoons for a newspaper based in the United States. For each issue, he tried to come up with subtle and elegant illustrations. But Emmanuel didn’t finish his studies at the art school. He immigrated to Israel to join his father who was living in Jerusalem. He took Hebrew course for a year and mastered enough to communicate with people but attending class at art school became a daunting task. All the same, he managed to get employed at Bel Technology where he worked for two years.

Today living and working in Addis Ababa, Emmanuel is devoting most of his time for his artwork. The works in his first exhibition are inspired by his eclectic view on his surroundings and most of his work is a reflection of both society and personal encounters. One of the paintings in the show is ‘The pianist’,based on a church pianist he knew from childhood. “I recall sitting close to her at the church service. She was often covered in headscarves and I was fascinated by the way she played. The dimension in the painting changed because I had difficulty looking at her,” he said. The exhibition will be on view at the Italian Cultural Institute from July 5th –July 19th, open Monday, Wednesday, Friday (9:00am-2:00pm, 4:00pm-6:30pm), Saturday (9:00am-6:00 pm). For more
information call 092071402
(All photos courtesy of Mulugeta Ayene, Capital’s staff photographer)

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  1. July 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    I greatly appreciated the painting exhibits and how you reflect on those. For me as a reader of your article, I am overwhelmed with the way people appreciate arts.

  2. September 23, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    we are expecting to come in Addis during november, I would like to meet him, how do you think it would be possible ?

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