ART – Ephrem Solomon Tegegn

Political Games

please give a brief bio of yourself.

Ephrem Solomon Tegegn

P.O.Box 25081, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Cell +251911458137,
(You can also find him on facebook , read his profile on tumblr, and check out some galleries (Tiwani Contemporary), and 1, 2, 3,) albums, Untitled Life, black and white chairs, Traditional Ethiopian and Folk Art 2, known family id photo, homesickness, Equality +Progress …flies, known feeling, ) You can also see his interview with the BBC.


I was born in Addis Ababa in 1983. I finished high school and went to art school in search of my childhood interest in art. I graduated in graphics art school. I am inspired by sociopolitical feelings concerning human and natural life. I believe any life composed of two colors that are black and white. Sometimes I paint on themes that reflect on my personal life experiences, things that happened to me in the past and my future vision. Painting to me is like writing my diary. Sometimes I paint on themes that reflects my personal life experiences, things that happened to me in the past and my future vision. I have often felt torn between what feels like a number of driving personalities. Although my work could almost always be described as objective or realistic, my aims never stay fixed to any particular point on a broad spectrum of intent.

Unknown Life One 2012 (Woodcut & Collage)

Sometimes I feel a strong need to make paintings that are unapologetically descriptive of what is immediately around me: Views of the city, the people I know, familiar hallways and spaces, or elements of nature that appeal to me. Other times, my work depicts a different kind of reality; one that is highly fictitious and free of the limitations of the ‘truthful’ recording of my own experiences. In these paintings, motivations might come from outside my surroundings. People, places, and objects, becoming reflect deeper political and personal narratives.

pic4 collabo

Common to the various types of work I engage in, is a deep commitment to the traditions of descriptive painting. In a world where newness has become a value in and of itself, I am more moved by the compliment that what I am doing technically feels like something from the past, while embodying something that is currently relevant.


I choose black and white colors to describe some idea of life. I use a chair to express the past, present and future deputation. I also use slippers to represent the society. Both chairs and slippers depict our residence. We often do not see the presence and equality of those chairs and slippers in our home. I also question their legality. Those chairs and slippers main problem are how they perceive power and their enormous number.

Society versus Government Two 2011

Please share a story with us about one of your works, that inspired you to produce it, how it came together, etc.

One of my couples of works, among them, disclosed a solemn reflection on a story about a widowed woman who owns a local drinking place that is located in the middle of market in sululta, 20 km away from Addis Ababa. On my visit I found myself drinking along with local merchants who had come in from the market for a drink. During this time I became fascinated with the various conversations that were taking place in this local drink called Tela drinking small bar. Many of the conversations were based on the current state of the country and as it related to the people’s daily life.
As in my early works, I have often used slippers and chairs to reflect stories of fragments of society that are often marginalized or voiceless. In this essence, to challenges of the everyday person who is juxtaposed between the past and the future. In this sense, I have put into a plan of exhibiting “chewata” exhibition which is the concept that I relate to the game of survival in a reality that is often not necessarily hospitable to the changing dynamics of the country.

Society versus Government One 2012

1. Where are you from, what was it like growing up?

I am from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. And, like the parts and parcels of my society my growing up was like any part of the country with its economical political, social and cultural or religious values.

Unknown Life Two 2012 (Woodcut & Collage)

2. What kind of hustles were people involved in?

In the specific description of the current hustles of our society, the people it seem, concentrated its intention on the difference between the past and present of their daily life in relation to the skyrocketing price of commodities, which are vital for daily living.

3. What does art mean to you, what made you art getting involved in producing art? What influences/ inspires you?

Art to me is a mirror that reflects the whole styles of our daily life. I started art starting from childhood’s experience in elementary schools.
I was inspired by own photograph put in a paper as compared to within a mirror.


4. What are your feelings about are and public space? Where would you like to see more art?

My feeling of art is that it will have more public space opportunities when art is exhibited in an unusual place/unusual time; being put for the entertainment, information and education purpose for instance: the pictures and texts put in the wall of toilet, garbage places etc.

known feeling

5. What is ‘mental slavery’?

Mental slavery can be put in other words by stating it with its equivalent terms “mental imprisonment” or it is an occupation of a mind state of thinking to think that some one is unable, or not capable of, transferring from one state of mind to another state of mind. This is, one is imprisoned with the thought that already cannot perform any thing, though the person is capable of performing.

6. Do you have a philosophy of education?

My philosophy of education may be different from many. That is education cannot be that way that abolishes poverty or cannot be vital for the fulfillment of our daily necessity. For example, we can see an illiterate farmer who is capable of feeding his family and surplus to feed his society without education. Therefore, this farmer though he is in no way paroled to education, he can satisfy his daily need, food; without the supply of education.

7. What kind of concepts do you find yourself engaging with in your works?

Most of the concepts within my works are socio-political concepts.

8. Are there elements or subject matter(s) do you find yourself returning to? What elements or subject matter(s) are you eager to explore next? Does this influence the materials you use?

Yes, there are some elements I am planning to return, my task into the art of flies. I would like to explore this within an experiment.


9. How do you see artists making money from their work today?

Usually speaking, today it is getting better from the past but, generally speaking many artists do art only for the sake of art, or satisfaction, therefore the money earned from art is though much, little is earned.


10. How do politics and your own personal values impact your work?

My personal values of my art are related to politics, as daily lives of society. This politics is depicted from my art is the right way and to the point without going around the bush.


11. What are some obstacles you have encountered during your involvement in art communities? What advice would you give a young person creating art?

Influences from politicians who try to make turn my subject matter into other arena, and lack of freedom to express, — sincerely fearing their threat.

12. What can you say about any community art or activist projects helping young people today that you know of or are involved with?

There is none I know personally.

13. How are you interacting with artists across the globe and also particularly in East Africa? Talk about any collaborations.

I have a lot of experience of interacting with artists in East Africa particularly from Kenya and UK in the global sphere. We meet together personally and correspond messages so as to share ideas with one another.


14. What sort of positive things do you see happening with young people in Ethiopia?

The positive thing I realize form young people in Ethiopia is, as compared to my past, there are promising things of change in their day to day life.

lion juda

15. How can people learn more about your work and projects you are involved in?

Through exhibitions & workshops


Thank you for your time
Kevlexicon @hiphopkambi



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