Galerie Alternance Features Works By Fikru Gebre Mariam

Above: Featured in exhibition at prestigious Galerie Alternance,
Fikru’s paintings have reached new levels of public recognition.

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk

Published: Friday, July 9, 2010

New York (Tadias) – An exhibition featuring recent works by internationally acclaimed Ethiopian artist Fikru Gebre Mariam will open at the prestigious Galerie Alternance in France this weekend.

In his 2009 profile of Fikru on Tadias Magazine, Donald N. Levine described the works as mostly depicting Ethiopian subjects, but expressed in geometric abstraction. “They convey a blend of rich hues, emotional intensity, immediacy of impact, and a touch of austerity,” Levine writes. “If asked to compare them to European artists, I would say that Fikru’s compositions offer a blend of Modigliani figures in a Giacomettian “Still Ladies” stance presented with Braquean geometric abstraction.”

In fact, the painter – who divides his time between his studios in Paris and Addis Ababa – tells the author that Braque was indeed his favorite artist. “Even so, there is no mistaking the deeply Ethiopian flavor of these paintings,” Levine says.”They display hints of Ethiopian miniatures and church paintings. They are imbued with African earth tones. They use the colored garments of Harari women. They capture the somber mood of much Ethiopian life.”

Levine goes on to describe how Fikru Gebre Mariam’s life in Paris and Addis Ababa influences his work. “The world of Ethiopian painters is, like much else about contemporary Ethiopian life, divided between those who have remained at home and attempted to be true to Ethiopian realities, and those who have emigrated and whose offspring evince a passion to emulate Western styles to a high degree. With studios in Paris and Addis Ababa, where he spends half a year each, Fikru savors all he can of both worlds. He insists that it is essential for his art that he remains close to his Ethiopian roots–and indeed has continued to live in his father’s gibbi (home) until now. At the same time, Fikru finds it no less essential to spend half of each year abroad. As he wrote me, “I believe the freedom of being out of Ethiopia has amazing value in my life and work. Both in Europe and the U.S., especially in Paris . . .visiting museums and art galleries bring dramatic important changes in my work. It is like seeing yourself in the big mirror, even if you think you know yourself.”

Fikru is a graduate of the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts, founded by the distinguished artist Ale Felege Selam – who introduced modern methods of teaching drawing and painting, which he had studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1950s. There, the artist became a protégé of instructor Tadesse Mesfin, who Levine says “not only taught him painterly skills but gave him a graphic theme which he would embrace, struggle with, and grow through, ever since.”

Here are recent images courtesy of the artist:

16 Responses to “Galerie Alternance Features Works By Fikru Gebre Mariam”

  1. 1 Mekonnen Jul 9th, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    I have seen Fikru’s work evolve over the years. What is great is that he is not quite done yet and I am sure that he will accomplish a lot more in the years to come.

    Congratulations Fikru

  2. 2 Ye Oak Town Lij Jul 9th, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Beautiful paintings. Very talented artist!!! Good luck in your future endeavors.

  3. 3 Betty Jul 9th, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Love the paintings! Modern art!

  4. 4 Mesob Jul 9th, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Congratulations to you!

  5. 5 Rahel Jul 9th, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    The guy is very smart. He knows what he is doing. You just have to listen to the paintings. Fine art is not always about seeing, it is also about listening.

  6. 6 Getahun Jul 10th, 2010 at 9:33 am


  7. 7 Rebashu Ababa Jul 10th, 2010 at 9:41 am


    I am concerned about you. In my opinion, anybody that declares to use their ear to view a painting is in immediate need of Tebel (holy water).


    Rebash Ababa

  8. 8 Elizabeth Jul 10th, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Delighted to hear of this opening in France. Was in Ethiopia and so glad that I purchased a painting from you. Will look forward to connecting again when I return.

  9. 9 Amoraw Jul 10th, 2010 at 2:06 pm



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  11. 11 Danny NYC Jul 10th, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    I have also followed Fikru’s development as an artist. His work has become even more interesting and complicated.

    Fellow artist

  12. 12 Ermias Jul 11th, 2010 at 12:54 am

    Selam Fikru,

    Any upcoming shows in the states, East Coast? Please announce in advance. Would love to catch it. Good luck on your exhibition in France!

  13. 13 Rahel Jul 11th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Ababa, lol, You are very funny. Yes, I may indeed be in need of holy-water…love your humor ante rebash :-)

  14. 14 Saba Sep 11th, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Congratulations Fikru!!!

    It is an amazing picture. You are so talented artist!!!!!

    Saba(Your Cousin)

  1. 1 Artist News » Galerie Alternance in France Features Ethiopian Artist Fikru Gebre … Pingback on Jul 9th, 2010 at 5:25 pm
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