Addis Journal: Stencil Paintings for the Ethiopian Music Festival

Source: The Visual Poets Society
(Re-posted here with permission).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

By Arefe

The picture above is a stenciled portrait of Alemayehu Eshete, a renowned Ethiopian vocalist, being displayed at an exhibition in Addis at 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.

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.

The collections are among the 600 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.

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Publisher’s note: This piece is re-posted from the Visual Poets Society’s blog with permission.

3 Responses to “Addis Journal: Stencil Paintings for the Ethiopian Music Festival”


  1. 1 Love May 21st, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Magnificient! Alemayehu Eshete, Tilahun Gessesse, Mahamoud Ahmed, Bizunesh Bekele are national treasures. When is the Ethiopian music festival?

  2. 2 Abram May 21st, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Nice images, great job!

  3. 3 anonymous Jul 25th, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    I only recognized Tilahun and Bezunesh on the last pic. Great work!

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