The view that inspired so much.
Many painting in this Ethiopia series were inspired by that magical moment on the road from Maji to Tum when the sun was setting and the mountains glowed as they rolled on all around us.
24 x 48, acrylic
All of us four painters who were a part of An Ethiopian Odyssey II were glowing, basking in the warmth of a perfect day. We had trekked to a waterfall, saw the vast dramatic expanse of Nafis Bir and brought the Polaroid out in the town square, with many memorable exchanges.
24 x 8, acrylic
Our truck was bopping along the ever-twisting and turning road and suddenly, this acacia tree was before us, popping out of the landscape like a regal, proud ancestor. It’s given me loads of inspiration, burning the memory even deeper in my mind. This is a joy of painting, to be able to revisit and dig deeper into experience.
36 x 12, oil
The moment this tree, that sky, the mountains, were in sight, I knew I’d be painting it many times several different ways.
24 x 8, acrylic
In some versions of this image, I added the shepherd and his cattle and sheep. This is such a common sight as the sun sets in this region, and we must have passed at least five or six different groups on this night. So much an experience of the visuals of Ethiopia are these shepherds in their flock, of people walking down the road with something balanced on their heads, that these images find their way into many paintings. Magical! Sigh!
20 x 20, oil
The Ethiopian Odyssey II team at Nahosenay’s studio.
Visiting our friends’ studios is a final highlight in an extremely full trip.
First, our team arrives at the studio of Nahosenay Negussie. Gasps could be heard as we entered. His art so alive and vibrantly beautiful. It is one thing to be painting alongside of someone on the road; it’s quite another to enter his studio, filled with finished pieces. It is here in the studio that the full spectrum of an artist is felt, and Nahosenay does not disappoint.
On the road, when you’re working, conditions are rough, time is limited and your brain is already stretched to capacity with the sights and sounds swirling around you. But for most artists, the magic happens in the studio. You have time to process all the ideas and have all of your supplies at hand. Seeing inside the studio is a special experience.
Our next stop is Yacob Bizuneh’s studio. Here, our minds were stretched and expanded. Yacob is a very modern, contemporary artist. His paintings are supported with video and are exhibited as installations.
His current works on our addiction to technology and the oil barrel workers of the Merkato of Addis Ababa make you think about the price we pay for “advancement” and our dependency on oil. Who pays that price? You can’t leave his studio without introspective thought and a nod of respect to the artist.
An Ethiopian Odyssey II: The Exhibition is going to be as magical as the trip itself and the beauty we beheld — just you wait and see. Troy Zaushny and myself have a high bar to reach for, but I think we are up for it!