A documentary on Maitre Artist Afewerk Tekle
A documentary on the life and works of the most honorable maitre artist world laureate, Afewerk Tekle was premired at the National Theatre yesterday. Tekle.The documentary, narrated in Amharic and to be distributed on DVD and VCD hereafter was done by B.T digital advert.
The film has been embraced with great appreciation by the audience as well as the artist. At the film’s premiere, Afewerk expressed this appreciation by generously offering his valued Mercedes to the filmmaker, originally given to him by public admirer. Seeing the inside of the artist’ villa on the film was a thrilling experience. The beautiful garden, studio, living room, dining room, bedroom and the guest’s quarter’s are elaborately adorned with his marvelous drawings, paintings, murals and mosaics.
The artist with his regal look presented the process by which he came to design the house, architecturally inspired by his own cultural heritage. This is evident in the Aksum, the castles of Gonder and Harar town. It is no wonder it took approximately fifteen years to complete this complex structure.
As I looked onto the paintings, I marveled for the umpteenth time how rich and meticulous the works were and how the artist has great respect for his heritage. With a closer look at some of his paintings, much of the detail is subtle and powerful. This is evident with the young, slim woman wearing a Caba dress (or shawl) in his one of his most famous painting, the Meskel Flower. For example, have you observed that she is standing only on one leg?
The film took us to time past, narrating how on his return from England in 1954, during his first major commission, Maitre Artist Afewerk decorated the Saint George Cathedral with murals and mosaics. The project took more than three years to complete. In 1954, he presented a solo art exhibition at the City Hall. The show was hailed as the first significant art exhibition in Post-World War II Ethiopia.
Another well recognized work is a set of stained glass windows in the entrance of Africa Hall. The documentary shows his ‘self-portrait’, which was the first from the African continent to be honored by its inclusion in the permanent collection of the Uffizi Museum, Italy. Many of his other works are adorned on postage stamps, playing cards, ceremonial dress, posters, murals, mosaics, and paintings.
Perhaps his most valued possession is his personal portrait of Emperor Haile Selassie that hangs in his bedroom; the emperor from whom he received the Haile Sellassie I Prize for Fine Arts in 1964. He was the first winner of the prize and also the designer of the award.
Afewerk’s work and achievements are an indicator that capitol profit are not always the main incentive: a lesson for all of us to acknowledge. There is a country, Ethiopia, where our roots lie, the legacy of which we should keep.
Maitre Artist Afewerk’s home page can be seen here.