Meklit: Lulseged Retta
Addis Fine Art is pleased to present, Lulseged Retta’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. The show will take place at the Addis Fine Art Gallery in Addis Ababa from Monday 23 September – 9 November 2019 and 10 am – 1 pm & 2 – 6 pm.
Lulseged Retta (b. 1952) is one of Ethiopia’s preeminent contemporary painters. His work amalgamates and reimagines traditional Ethiopian artistic themes and modernist styles, harmoniously coalesced for a present-day audience. Lulseged is informed by a multitude of influences, including Ethiopian Orthodox Church art, his passion for music, which he rhythmically infuses into his compositions, and his own philosophical interpretation of modern-day Ethiopian life. Retaining and re-appreciating Ethiopian culture is a principle motif for Lulseged; “We have enough culture, beauty and relics of our own. What we have to do is nurture it and preserve it.” Distinctive iconography can be found throughout Lulseged works, such as the physiognomy of the “African mask”, and characteristically large oval shaped eyes which protrude from many of his canvases. These eyes, for Lulseged, represent “everything, a symbol of wisdom, beauty and innocence”. Moreover, historically the expressive and exaggeratedly depicted eyes have a long history in Ethiopian art, creating a “reversal gaze”; the painting itself is watching the observer.
Lulseged attended Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts before graduating with a diploma and moving to the then USSR in the 1980s, in order to complete an MFA at the Academy of Art Repina (now modern-day St Petersburg). He has since become one of Ethiopia’s most prolific painters. He has also been curator of "Art of Ethiopia", an annual exhibition held at the Sheraton Addis Ababa, for the last twelve years.