Female artists from Ethiopia in the spotlight

August 2008 -

One is well-trained and attended art academy in the United States. The other is self taught, taught herself to mix colours and earns just enough from painting to be able to send her children to school. Desta Hagos began painting flowers and plants, but nowadays paints people. Over time the content of her exhibits has broadened. Her painting 'Park full of thorns' shows a mother and child, wedged between thorns that hold them captive. Lemlem Gebremeskel primarily paints religious subjects. She loves painting the Virgin Mary, or the four archangels. She provides works to churches and cloisters and is one of the few women whose paintings are accepted in that traditional male domain. 


Detail book cover

"What they have in common", explains Alem Desta, author of Candace: Invincible women of Ethiopia, "is that they are much less visible than their male colleagues in Ethiopia. And they are not alone. Most Ethiopians have no idea what fashion designers, pottery designers, female curators and other women in the arts and the cultural sector contribute to society. A female artist must work twice as hard as her male colleagues to receive the same recognition."

Alem Desta: "Discriminating against someone because she is not a man, is denying that she is a human being. Still this happens, not only in the arts and in the cultural sector, but in all sectors of Ethiopian society. In literature about women in Ethiopia, women are generally depicted as victims of hunger, conflict and male aggression. I wanted to break with that image. It is time to show women's power and contribution to society."

Candace: Invincible women of Ethiopia (€ 19,90) can be ordered at cultuur@ethiopiamillennium.nl