Exihibit shows skill of portrait artist
Around forty art works by an artist Tewdros Hagos is on show in Addis’s Alliance éthio-française gallery. Human figures and portraits form the basis of the pieces in the exhibit which opened on Tuesday night. The figures shows mostly visually impaired subjects, portrayed with sympathy and authenticity. While open to interpretation, many of the works embody the silenced lives of the marginalized, thier fears, the pain they endured, their will to prevail. The somber colors and light add to embody a bold social and political statement in the portrait of the men and the women.
Tewdros was born in Addis Ababa in 1974.He begun school at Atse Tewdros Elementary School and later joined Bole Secondary High School. The artist says as a child his exposure to art was limited yet he displayed a strong talent for drawing. When he was very young, he taught himself a great deal, trying to copy any picture that appealed. “I didn’t play football,’ he recalls. At high-school, the budding artist exhibited his works on the school compound which ‘created a lot of stir’.
Tewdros graduated in 1995 from the Art school of Addis Ababa with distinction. His mentors include Mezgebu Tessema, Tadesse Mesfin, Worku Mamo. He says they have all influenced him in their own ways.
After graduation, the artist took up full time painting work and started attracting attention. Few years later in 1998, he took off to Europe and took residence in Antwerp, Belgium. He said he found the experience ‘exciting’. Europe filled his head with new ideas, sights and sounds. He took Flemish language course, roamed the museums, visited other artist’s studios and became acquainted with the art community there.
During his ten year stay in Belgium, the artist has come to discover the direction of his work, in the tradition of realism, which had always appealed to the practical, down-to earth side of the Ethiopian personality. He painted faces the way he saw them.
Other than Belgium, he has had numerous solo exhibitions in Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.
Tewdros says that this latest exhibition represents two years of work.“It’s a real development in terms of style,” he explains. “A lot of things inspired the works featured in this show.” He says doing the portrait and human figures are his way of having a dialogue with characters. “Even if you are not able to see each other, say with the blind people, you mange to communicate efficiently. That is what I am trying to show in my works.people that linger in my mind long after I met them.” he says.
In one of his works, the artist painted his wife. A close look at the work shows that it has both aesthetic allure and depth. She doesn’t appear merely as a decorative or passive pictorial element; but a character with nobility, nuance, and grace.
Throughout all of these paintings, it’s impossible not to recognize and admire Tewdros’s deft skills with a brush. His portraits are not only character studies; they also demonstrate masterful manipulations of light and shadow, color and tone.
The exhibition runs until November 22.