Through his work, Girmachew Getnet seeks to capture the universality of lived experience. His paintings abound with human figures, expressed in different colours in celebration of our multiplicity of perspectives, origins, and histories. Much like the German expressionist painters of the early twentieth century, for Girmachew, colour has spiritual significance. The deep golden yellow which blooms in the sunflowers of the Blossoming Mind series, for example, is a symbol of vitality and energy. The objects themselves also hold symbolic weight – sunflowers are often planted by farmers to cleanse contaminated soil, as they have the ability to absorb toxins and store them on a cellular level. This bears metaphoric parallel to Girmachew’s belief in the cathartic, healing power of the process of artistic creation.
Following his graduation from the Alle School of Fine Arts and Design in Addis Ababa, and after some years living and working in the Ethiopian capital where he co-founded the Habesha Art Studio with a number of his classmates, Girmachew relocated to Frankfurt, Germany in 2010. He found himself suddenly alone, isolated geographically from the communities – artistic and otherwise – that he had built around himself in Ethiopia. For Girmachew, this solitude became rich soil within which he could plant the seeds of his personal experience and allow them to grow into the diverse garden of well-formed ideas that weave their way throughout his paintings.