YOUNG ARTIST SEEKS INSPIRATION FROM THE PAST
Interviewed by Arabella Stewart
Habtamu Tibebe is a passionate young artist born and raised in Addis, Ethiopia; a graduate of the Alle School of Fine Arts he now works full time as a studio artist. I visited Habtamu at his studio located in a quiet condo bordering Addis suburbia and the beautiful surrounding countryside. His art is vibrant and expressive; each painting is filled with minute artistic detail – from a distance much of his work appears to resemble perfect mosaics. But in fact he integrates letters and tiny intricate designs within his paintings as his signature background – these designs are also woven into the centerpieces of his artwork.
“I am interested in researching different media as well as using various techniques in my art. Currently my interest and focus is on the early hieroglyph (ancient symbols) Sabaen (ancient Ethiopian text used from 700 BC – 600 AD)writing system of Axum” He primarily works in acrylics but also enjoys creating engraving designs on wood and transferring to canvas.
Whilst at college, Habtamu used this time of study to actively participate in art workshops and competitions collecting awards and gaining a solid reputation including a documentary through collaboration with artists from Norway. Despite his youth (age 25) he has already held numerous exhibitions both as a solo artist and a group participant and he is an emerging talent to take note of among artists here in Addis.
Art has always held an interest in Habtamus life as far back as he is able to recall. His first oil painting on canvas was of an Omo Valley girl – an image he found inspiration from in Selamta magazine. All of his pastime activities when he was not at school centered around artistic expression. His talent and love of art was encouraged at elementary school and he always gained the highest grades but in high school there was no art class so he had to draw and paint in his free time to develop his skills. He always felt that he would and could only become a painter whatever it took to reach this goal. Towards that end he engaged in a summer course whilst in high school at the Enlightenment Art Academy and he credits taking this course as the launch pad to his art career. It was here that he became inspired by artist and teacher Asnake Kifle, who encouraged Habtamu to pursue art at university; he was a great role model and inspiration. His family however was less enthusiastic about his choice of profession; they wanted him to pursue his university government placement to study tourism. His preferred choice was to attend AAU but was contingent on passing their entrance exam. This was a time of emotional turmoil going against the wishes of his family however, but after persuasive discussions between mentor Asnake Kifle and his brother, the family finally relented their opposition – he then passed the entrance exam and entered AAU to follow his passion.
“My goals for the future include being able to introduce and display my art through exhibitions abroad since I already have many foreign customers here in Ethiopia. My big dream is also to have my own gallery. If people are interested in seeing or buying my art, they are welcome to visit my studio; I am always ready and happy to accept guests. My art is very colorful, bright and reflects my emotions such as creating beauty from butterflies combined with ladies faces. The amazing human and natural activities of past world civilizations also really fascinates me and inspires my art”.
The Art Gala international talent team is is looking forward to have Habtamu Tibebe as a member of TAG talent team. We hope that our guests will be enjoying the show and Habtamu’s paintings. More info and tickets at theartgala.com