Summer Task 3

Task 3 asked us to research and visit a current and contemporary exhibition which related to an element of our study, I therefore decided to focus on the ‘drawing’ element as remembering that drawing does not have to be just pencil drawings, I felt I had more options. The exhibition I visited was ‘Pangaea ii: new art from Africa and Latin America” which was currently on at the Saatchi gallery. The exhibition itself was very interesting with a range of artwork, in a variety of mediums by a number of different artists. The exhibition itself had many artists who had ‘drawn’ using paint and any number of other materials. The purpose of this exhibition visit was to explore the work of one of the artists who featured within the exhibition, therefore I chose the artist Dawit Abebe.

We were set three tasks to complete while looking at our artists:

  1. Read reviews on this artists practice:

The artists featured within the exhibition are not hugely well known, at least within our culture and society and therefore I found it difficult to find reviews on the artists practice itself. I have however found one review by David Franchi, but as it is only one person’s review that I have, with no other opinions to place against it I must remember this tells only of one man’s opinion.

Reading the review by David Franchi it was made clear that he felt it was an amazing exhibition due to the fact it included different but involving ideas. Franchi found his work to maintain a genuineness, while retaining a fresh and uncorrupted point of view on change happening in the area. This is due to Abebe’s work having a lot of references to the social and technological change in the world around him and this is expressed through his pieces of work.

Franchi also comments on Dawit Abebes skills and processes along with his ideas, believing he has stunning abilities. Abebe’s style was described as interesting ‘with his strokes and background paintings made of vivid colours, he renders the African shades’. Due to such brush strokes he also found comparisons to his work with Egon Schiele and Angelo Stano.

This was quite an in-depth and interesting review to read and I hope over time due the exhibition at Saatchi gallery more reviews will be written and be available for me to read.

  1. Analyse a sample of their work over time:

I have found it hard to find a sample of his work over time, he is not a well known artists. However I have found that he has had solo exhibitions in 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2015, but finding work from these exhibitions have proven to be more difficult. The largest gap in dates I can find it between 2012 and 2015 and these pieces of work seem very similar, which to me says that his style has stayed the same. However whether this is true dating back to his earlier work I cannot say, as it is hard to find.

  1. Explore the social, political and cultural context of the artist’s work:

Dawit Abebe comments on social, political and cultural situations. The main theme running through his work is the change in social society due to the increase in technology. Within this he comments on the loss of cultural norms and stories, such as oral traditions being passed down, and he feels this is something that he needs to make a point about, with Ethiopia having 3000 years of history and culture which is now somehow being lost in this technological world, to a new ‘other’ culture of technology. Abebe also comments on the way technology has affected the environment and social human behaviour, this being similar to the above point has been shown through the way in which social interaction has moved out of the public sphere into the technological one, this can be seen in many cultures today with the rise in mobile phones and social media.

Dawit Abebe also comments on how technology affects his culture in ways other than human social behaviour, but also on surveillance. The rise in technology takes with it a rise in surveillance and a lack of privacy in which Ethiopia, like many other cultures now has modern surveillance which watches over them all the time. Abebe likes to comment on these in his work along with the idea that we are all run by numbers, we have telephone number, driving numbers, house numbers, and we are no longer people but numbers.

Abebe’s work is powerful and sends clear messages, he ‘examines belief systems, the search for knowledge, privacy, alienation and materiality’. One examples can be seen below.

Photo one: X Privacy 3 2011

X Privacy 3

Dawit Abebe – X Privacy 3, 2011

This image is one that questions modern surveillance and the how technology has affected human interaction. The rise in technology in Ethiopia has begun alienating traditional values and cultural norms, especially within some groups and societies. The image shows how he feels about everyday life.


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