In Addis Ababa, Creative Entrepreneurs Look Toward Ethiopia’s Future

Amirah Jiwa, Here Magazine, April 30, 2020

[...] One standout pioneer in collective creativity is Rakeb Sile, cofounder of Addis Fine Art, the first contemporary art gallery in the city to offer artists international representation. Sile spent her formative years in Addis before moving to the U.K. for high school. Being so far away from home sparked her interest in Ethiopian art.


"I wanted to see familiar things that helped me feel connected to home, and so I started collecting art," Sile says. But as she attempted to uncover details about her acquisitions, she realized how little information was available about art coming out of the Horn of Africa. The desire to learn more about Ethiopian art gradually transformed into a desire to promote Ethiopian art abroad, and her personal curation grew from a passion project into Addis Fine Art.


"There is no reason that artists [in Addis Ababa] can't have the same commercial success as artists anywhere else in the world," says Sile. Describing the project as "artist-centric," she is most motivated by the ability to offer opportunities for success to artists who might not have had them otherwise. 


As international as the focus of Addis Fine Art may often seem, Sile is equally committed to driving interest in and appreciation for the art within Ethiopia. "Right now, there is a lot of speculation happening around African art, and it's important that local people have the opportunity to buy the art that's from here," she says. "We're doing a lot of education on the client side to develop local collecting because Ethiopia needs to take the lead in preserving and valuing its own art." [...]

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