Elegant Sculptures by Artist Etiyé Dimma Poulsen

Ethiopian-born artist Etiyé Dimma Poulsen lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium. (Photo: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk

May 11, 2007

New York - Born in 1968, in Aroussi, a rural village in Ethiopia, Etiyé Dimma Poulsen was orphaned at age two. Adopted by a Danish friend of the family, Gunnar Poulsen, Etiyé Poulsen’s turbulent childhood led her through Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, and finally to Denmark. As a remedy for the constant uprooting and difficulties of communication that characterized her childhood, she began to paint at the age of fourteen. When no other alternative existed, painting became her expressive outlet. Poulsen studied art and art history in Denmark for two years. At 22, she traveled to France to live with partner and fellow artist Michel Moglia. Inspired by Moglia, Poulsen began sculpting in ceramics to once again communicate her worldview and emotions. In 1993, she relocated her studio to Antwerp, Belgium, where she presently lives and works.

Her elegant sculpture suggests lyric elisions and manipulation of the commonplace, yielding extraordinary and personal perceptions. Simultaneously balanced between the traditional and the modern, they evince refined sensibilities that explore new aesthetic territory derived from her travels to varied cultural arenas and an awareness of the formalist sculpture sources involved with the nature of the material she uses, including it’s cultural connections. The body of her works has the force of a determined idea. They are so profoundly personal to the artist that they all but command an equally personal response. Totemic, elongated and possessing a quiet dignity with detailed facial expressions and delicately glazed bodies, the figures evolve out of a complex process in which clay is put on an iron mesh armature and then painted before it goes through the firing process. Chance also plays an important role during the firing process and accepted as a natural part of creation by the artist. This allows for the formation of cracks which give the works their distinct characteristics, a unity of paint treatment and over-all tonalities.

Poulsen’s works have been exhibited in Africa, Europe and the US including 2000 Dakar Biennale, Senegal; 2002 Alliance Francaise, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; 2003 Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, 2004, Museum of World Culture, Goteborg, Sweden, 2006, Skoto Gallery, New York.

She is also represented in several public and private collections such as The Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, Museum of African Art, Washington DC, Jean Paul Blachere Foundation, France and The Hans Bogatzke Collection of Contemporary African Art, Germany.

Defining herself as a cultural hybrid, Poulsen has always been drawn to African art and aesthetics. She attributes this attraction to an unconscious cultural memory. Consciously, she uses Ethiopian art as a tool in her creative process. She rejects the “primitive” stigmatization of artists of African descent and views it as a barrier to her own artistic expression. When language barriers grew too great, Etiye’s paintings and sculptures spoke for her. The works of Etiyé Dimma Poulsen, she stresses, are the embodiment of her vision and emotions which she attempts to communicate to the world.

Aztec Woman, 2005, mixed media, 23x10x4 inches.

Source: Skoto Gallery. Working around Archetypes: New Sculptures by Etiye Dimma Poulsen

8 Responses to “Elegant Sculptures by Artist Etiyé Dimma Poulsen”

  1. 1 S. Azeb Zekiros May 11th, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    Selam Etiye,

    I do love your sculptures, they have a life of their own. I looked you up when I came to Denmark about 2 years ago, but my brother told me you had moved. Now, I know where you are. You and Tesfaye Tessema look real nice together. The other pictures are excellent as well. I also admire “Tadias” it’s a well organized and informative magazine. I wish you, Tesfaye & Tadias will come to my art show opening reception this evening May 11, from 6:30 to 9:00pm at the Artful Gallery, 1349 Maryland Ave., NE, Wash. DC. I know it’s too late but, I just want to share information. I hope you and your family will enjoy your stay in the US.

    S. Azeb Zekiros

  2. 2 Tessema Temtime/artist Jun 7th, 2007 at 8:46 am

    Am so intersted by Etiye’s art works am very happy just 2 get her ,I remember some years ago i have seen Etiye’s art exhibition in ethiopia at Allianc ethiofrance.at last i realy appriciat the organizer of this site
    with beast regards Tessema from Ethiopia.

  3. 3 defabatchew,adefris Jun 29th, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    My close observation of your sculptures, particularly the elongated necks and wide faces
    and somewhat almond shaped eyes, portrayed in the subjects of yor art, are symptomatic of the subconscious ventilation of un abductee, that is, an abductee of ALIENS from onother planet, perhaps from onother dimension, who is constantly reminded of the abductors.

  4. 4 Naol Jul 21st, 2007 at 4:57 am

    Hello Etiye Dimma,
    are u from Arsi of Ethiopia?surprized!
    am also from Arsi and living here in Antwerpen.

  5. 5 Rolf Skat Nielsen Nov 19th, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Hej Etiye!
    En lille hilsen fra Danmark, nærmere betegnet Århus (for mange år siden Gadevang).
    Jeg sad lige og tænkte på dig, og slog dit navn op på nettet. Så elegant, så sublimt er dit udtryk i dine værker….Og jeg vil sige, – naturligvis.
    Men for mig, var det selvfølgelig først og fremmest så dejligt at se billeder af dig, dine øjne og dit smil…Åh, hvor jeg dog genkender dig,- sikke en skøn udstråling!
    Jeg vil meget gerne ramme en udstilling, hvor du er med….
    Det glæder mig dybt og inderligt, at se, at det går godt i din færden i livet…Og skulle det ske, at vi mødes, så lad os skåle og hilse pænt…KH Rolf

  6. 6 Guthema Roba Apr 24th, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Etiye’s works are so powerful, so elegant and so inspiring. She is real genius.

  7. 7 Lennart Vinge Dec 28th, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Dear Etiyé Dimma Poulsen
    I find that your sculptures are an aesthetic enjoyment, and I had the opportunity to by the sculpture “Couple aux trois Couiris” (for my old aunt) at an auktion at the artmuseum Aros in Aarhus in Denmark. The auktion was arranged by Gert Jensen as a support to the to the educational program he runs in Ethiopia.
    Looking forward to more of your sculptures; I send you
    My kindly regards
    Lennart Vinge

  8. 8 Régis Labbé Jan 6th, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Bonjour Madame,
    En ce début d’année, ceci est juste un lointain mais fidèle souvenir
    des deux ex-voisins de votre père (Régis-le-Menuisier et Dominique-l’Organiste), à Chailley, qui ont aussi un si bon souvenir de vous.
    Nous avons perdu son adresse e-mail mais serions heureux qu’il nous donne de temps à autre de ses nouvelles : sa santé, surtout, mais aussi ses
    occupations. A t-il participé comme expert au Copenhaven’s Summit sur le
    changement climatique ? Son livre a-t-il été traduit en français ?
    Sa maison de Chailley a été louée plusieurs fois mais peu de temps. Vendue,
    achetée, elle est maintenant inoccupée depuis près de six mois, et pour nous c’est un peu triste.
    Mais le souvenir de votre père, si agréable et intelligent, reste avec nous,
    et aussi de votre si charmant sourire, lorsque vous veniez le voir.
    Merci de lui dire, à l’occasion, tous les voeux que nous formons pour lui et sa famille. And also, please, if you can send me his e-mail !
    Best wishes, happy new year and best sculptures !

    Régis Dominique

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