Home > Exhibition > Alemayehu Eshete in stencil painting

Alemayehu Eshete in stencil painting

3355942125_e61d51444b_mThe picture above is a stenciled portrait of Alemayehu Eshete, a renowned Ethiopian vocalist, being displayed at an exhibition in Alliance Ethio-Francaise’s gallery starting from Friday, May 15 as a part of the 8th Ethiopian Music Festival.
The work by French painter, Pierr Dumond, (known by his artistic name Artiste-Ouvrier) is based on a photograph from Abyssinia Swing, showing Alemayehu in his youth as a nineteen-year old obscure singer.
The second portrait based on a photo taken six months later illustrates the singer’s stunning transformation that came with his new-found fame and an Elvis Presley look.3405053755_9111859e8c_m
The acrylics works are highly detailed stencils and silk screened on canvass. Artist-Ouvrier’s technical skill in combining emphatic brushstrokes with photographic imagery has captivated viewers.
The artist has also displayed other portraits of Ethiopian musicians such as Tilahun Gessesse and a group portrait of Tilahun Gessesse, Mahamoud Ahmed, Bizunesh Bekele.3448724934_c3871084d6_m
The collections are among the 34 works that Artist-Ouvrier has been doing since March 1, 2009 in preparation for the Music Festival.
The Festival which opened on Friday this year has chosen to honour two composers and arrangers, Sahle Degago and Lemma Demissew, two prevalent figures of “Swinging Addis “,”unfairly erased from collective memory”, according organizers.
Sahle Degago has spent his whole musical career among the Imperial Bodyguard Orchestra. An inspired melodist, a delicate songwriter and above all an arranger as sophisticated as prolific, he was the main architect of the successes of other members of the Orchestra such as Tilahoun Gessesse, Bezunesh Bekele or Mahmoud Ahmed, according to the promotional brochures.
The career of Lemma Demissew bloomed in the shade of the Army Band. Contrary to Sahle Degago, who was strongly Ethiopian in his approach, Lemma Demissew was often a feverish modernist, deeply inspired by the electric wave born on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. A pianist, a composer, a singer, he will also remain, for our music lovers’ soft little hearts, the beloved arranger of many of Mahmoud Ahmed’s or Alemayehu Eshete’s anthological vinyl records.
Find more pictures of Artiste-Ouvrier at Flciker.
(More about the Festival in the days to come)

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Categories: Exhibition
  1. ETENU
    May 19, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Did I read an ELVIS PRESLEY look alike. I can’t believe my eyes, are you talking about his physical appearance or his songs. Neither look like Elvis, whom Ray Charles called a punk white boy, who can’t even sing, he existed when white folks were looking for a singer who could outshine Black Americans. Alemayehu on the other hand is the Ethiopian Marvin Gaye or other African American musician. The ones who in their songs brought out critical issues of Racisim and other injustice in our world.Elivs and Ale lived a world apart and have nothing in common.

  2. May 20, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    I don’t think the “miSiSil” is supposed to be taken literally, Etenu. I think it’s what he represented, or tried to represent, that gave him the nick name “YeEthiopia Elvis”. He wore the same type of clothes (was known for his “shikta”, apparently), did his hair the way Presely did and tried to act the part (stayed out late, knocked at doors with a bottle of whisky in the hand at the wee hours of morning, fought to the death over broads — the way all western wannabee artists of that generation -among them Bealu Girma and Sebhat Gebregziabher – did). Knowing how high the Presely-fever around the world was (there was the story of that beauty who sent him her photos too), it would have been hard to miss what sort of a nick-name Alemayehu is aiming for.

    None to his credit, you might say. And I might have agreed with you four months ago, before I came across a radio program dedicated to his tributes to YeEthiopia Musiqa. Apparently, Alemayehu Eshetu is the first Ethiopian Artist to “Shekla masQerets”, taking the risk of losing good money and an otherwise acceptable reputation. He said, “it’s about time we join the rest of the world” and went ahead . Before him, legend has it, having a “shekla” in amharic was unthought of. Created quite a stirr too. So maybe he’s the type of guy our generation would find hard to swallow; in any form. But he was a man with a vision once.

  3. ETENU
    May 20, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    BETAM AMESEGNALEHU, you are so good in explaining. To me songs of Alemayehu like YETIKUR GISELA, if I am not mistaken BLACK PANTHER, speaks of the times of IAN SMITH, the times of MALCOM X etc. Songs about step parents that touched the hearts of many growing in that kind of family setting are what made Alemayehu so different, that is what came to my mind. You are so right he had the presely fever, many had and some like me too until I came to America and realized what Elvis represented. Sorry my thinking was not broad, again thanks for your explanation.

  4. Mesfin
    May 20, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Was Bealu Girma a western wannabe Abesheet? I doubt that since his books were more of Ethiopian and pro Ethi cultures. Anyways thanks for posting the paintings Arefe.

  5. selamawit
    May 21, 2009 at 12:01 am

    I like Alemayehu,
    I have heard good things about him, his personality, his family life etc. People say he is a good ma.
    But I have seen an interview a couple years ago where he called himself Alex abain and again and he said he adored Elvis tried to act, and dress like him at the time. It kind of disapointed me a lot. It even shocked me.Elvis never, never gave credit to black people even though he copied the likes of Chuck Barry, Ray Charles, Sam Cook etc.
    I had to come to America to know what Elvis is all about. Ray Charles is right.
    I don’t get it. I think Alemayehu may not know what Elvis is all about. He needs to be told.

  6. alem
    May 21, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    come on people lighten up! all artists have their own idol and they do not go in to deep to find out what that person is all about before imitating him or her. my guess is Elvis looked and acted cool at that time and that was enough for Alemayhu to imitate him:)

    Honestly though, Remember how we used to love to listen to Country music in those times? Kenny Rogers and Dolly used to blare out laud every corner of the Addis shops or in taxis , now where did that come from? I say we used to have all those naive ideas about the west! most of us had to move out to the west to realize we are black …:) so come on let’s not judge. Lets instead educate eshi?

  7. May 22, 2009 at 2:00 am

    You are most welcome, Etenu. I strive to inform and be informed. That’s why I run things by my readers when something has me fogged, annoyed or in despair. Not easy being an abesha, and a female at that, on the 21st century.

    Selamawit:
    Sorry to learn of your disappointment. But haven’t you had any clue as to where his loyalties lie from the way he acted?! Ene sasibew, the trick is knowing your idols are mere humans. They are bound to have the biases and insecurities that plagues the rest of us. That, as “alem” said, would save us from expecting much from them. Personally, though, I see all men from that generation (including my own father) as mugs. Look at us, i mean to say, you don’t see us running after every “hot stuff” on the menu and try to be like him or her. Our expectations are more realistic, if not on the skeptic side, more forgiving. Edme leZemene InfoTainment, edme tenKebakbo lasadegen “MaDaaberia”, we are only too aware nothing is what it appears to be.

    [By “we”, I may have meant “me” 🙂 ].

    Keep ’em coming Arefe.

  8. October 22, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    for learing ethiopian artist life history

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