Addis Fine Art gallery is pleased to continue its programme with a solo exhibition of works by multidisciplinary artist Leikun Nahusenay (b.1982), featuring works in photography, painting, mixed media, and sculpture.
Process and Progression is a retrospective of Nahusenay’s work over the last 16 years. Though wide-ranging in his choice of medium, Nahusenay’s exploration of the Himeme Siqlet, a sacred Ethiopian Orthodox text, is what grounds his seemingly disparate pieces together, through its evocation of the world’s opposing forces (light, dark; flesh, spirit; good, evil) and the futility of their reconciliation.
Using the checkerboard motif that appears throughout his work, Nahusenay probes the Biblical passage, which illustrates the drunken gambling and revelry that took place underneath the cross during the Crucifixion. Using rows upon rows of black and white squares and etchings, he takes this meditation to a more secular context, as the alternating squares sinuously trace the calm repose of a woman seated behind a café table, clasping her mobile phone.
In his photography, the use of double exposure, collage, and scratch-and-peel methods allows Nahusenay to create irreproducible, dreamlike worlds in which the spiritual ostensibly strains against, and spills into, the physical. The ghostlike rendering of a busy street scene hollows out the solid but battered exterior of a green and yellow public bus, in turn allowing us a glimpse into its inner function. A colorful market scene curdles and coagulates—its participants juxtaposed against the raw grains they will soon consume.
Nahusenay’s fascination with life’s cyclical nature, and its expression in physical spaces, is evident throughout the collection. Informed by the simple yet layered, circular structure of a traditional hut, Gojo Bet (2000) one of his earliest works, features interposed cardboard shapes, each of various textures, sizes, and shades of taupe, suggesting movement, and a certain playfulness of perspective. This playfulness seeps into other pieces where Nahusenay quite literally offers us a window into a dark, tenuous landscape, albeit through the protective shield of a woman’s shawl.