Selome Muleta (b. 1992) is one of the most exciting young female artists to emerge from the Ethiopian visual arts scene in recent years. Now based in Addis Ababa, Muleta studied art formally at the Abyssinia Fine Art School (2012) and Entoto Polytechnic College (2013-2014). Throughout her latest body of work, Selome merges portraiture with still life in a meditative exploration of womanhood and interiority.
Muleta crafts rich internal worlds through the colour-laden interior scenes of her canvases, which frequently depict women in states of inner reflection. The gestural, loose quality of her strokes coupled with her sophisticated blending of pastels with vibrant shades of crimson and green creates an atmosphere both quiet and complex. In a similar vein to the portraits of Jennifer Packer, Muleta employs translucent washes of hue to create a sense of contemplative unity between her subjects and their respective environments. At times, the faces of her characters are obscured or cropped, and the viewer is invited instead to focus on the sparse array of objects that decorate the room. A drooping plant, a dozing feline companion, a distant crooked framed portrait – the line between living and non-living objects becomes blurred, and the viewer is encouraged instead to focus on the sheer physicality of being. Much like the bottles and bowls of Morandi and Hockney’s plant-laden vases, the flattened characters and objects born from Muleta’s brush seem to hum serenely with the energy of their very existence.