Selected works by Ephrem Solomon

Ephrem Solomon
Political Game 3

2012

Woodcut and mixed media

85 x 86 cm

The social and political tensions that underline Solomon’s explorations of Ethiopia’s tensions are not overt. Regional instabilities rooted in inherited hierarchies could well be their concern, or might it be the swelling religious tensions that continue to pressurise rural communities. In Solomon’s gentle woodcuts, the ambiguity of location, which is often flattened, neutralised and nondescript, reveals nothing except the artist’s apparent refusal to illustrate or oversimplify the complexity of his environment. Upheaval and displacement play a significant role in the highly polarised rhetoric of Ethiopian politics, especially in the behaviours and mobilisations under ethnic federalism. Seemingly conflicting interests of traditional hierarchies, divided by generational and gender lines, have lead to systematic oppressions and inequalities based on historic ethnic affinities.

Ephrem Solomon
The Two Gamblers

2013

Woodcut and mixed media

62 x 62 cm

Plain, chequered and patchwork surfaces form the backgrounds for his signature slipper (The Political Game, 2013) and chairs (Untitled 2, 2013), which refer to the ways and manners of Ethiopian society. Here, the underutilised object becomes an allegory for the unfulfilled lives of the citizens who appear to be doing nothing more than waiting. In Solomon’s woodcuts the isolation of the human figure and his or her surroundings is often reflected in monochromatic tones. In his depictions of inanimate objects, the absence of the body from chairs, and the removal of feet from several pairs of slippers suggest a loss of presence. Solomon’s ‘Untitled Lives’ are local in scale, relating specifically to the city of Addis Ababa, yet they could have been produced anywhere. These observations reveal more than a political tension but rather a state of being at odds with a system beyond one’s control.

Ephrem Solomon
Untitled Life 4

2013

Woodcut and mixed media

90 x 95 cm
Ephrem Solomon
Untitled 2

2013

Woodcut and mixed media

74 x 74 cm
Ephrem Solomon
Untitled 2

2013

Woodcut and mixed media

85 x 90 cm

© Osei Bonsu, 2014

Ephrem Solomon
Dignity of the Lady

2013

Woodcut and mixed media

90 x 95 cm

Ephrem Solomon portrays the distance between the governing and the governed, fleshing out tender subjects whose lives are marked by a lack of political agency and meaning. Solomon’s mixed media layering of human experience in his native Ethiopia are descriptive images of everyday life, that which is neither extraordinary nor uncommon. However, these seemingly mundane objects such as the artists’ signature chair and slippers are in fact catalysts in the elaboration of a broader political story. Unpacking the artist’s anecdotal imaginings, the emergence and reemergence of Solomon’s ‘Untitled’ characters, solemn-looking men and women, allude to the negotiation of will in the face of immobility and oppression. Suddenly, the chairs, slippers, and paper clippings become the characters of a personal narrative, recurring in meaningful ways as if torn from the pages of the artist’s own diary.

Ephrem Solomon
Untitled

2013

Woodcut and mixed media

90 x 95 cm
Ephrem Solomon
Unknown Life

2013

Woodcut and mixed media

85 x 90 cm
Ephrem Solomon
The Unknown Lady

2013

Woodcut and mixed media

90 x 95 cm
Ephrem Solomon
The Two Sorrow Faces

2013

Woodcut and mixed media

90 x 95 cm
Ephrem Solomon
Gamnler 5

2012

Woodcut and mixed media

59 x 64 cm
Ephrem Solomon
Untitled (Portrait Series)

2013

Woodcut and mixed media

32 x 32 cm
Ephrem Solomon
Untitled (Portrait Series)

2013

Woodcut and mixed media

32 x 32 cm
Ephrem Solomon
Untitled (Portrait Series)

2013

Woodcut and mixed media

32 x 32 cm

Articles

EPHREM SOLOMON: UNTITLED LIFE
Tiwani Contemporary, London, United Kingdom

Tiwani Contemporary presents Untitled Life, a selection of socio-political works using a combination of woodcut and mixed media by Ethiopian artist Ephrem Solomon. The exhibition is Solomon’s debut with Tiwani Contemporary and his first in London.
Untitled Life is an ambitious body of work that speaks not only to contemporary Ethiopia but also globally. Views of the city, its histories and the people that inhabit these spaces inform his practice. Solomon’s interest in a fictional world that exists beyond the present, and no one that is free from the limitations on anecdotal recordings are often represented through ‘untitled’ characters to maintain the anonymity of the subjects and to allow viewers to identify themselves within the work. The facial expressions of these characters are not directed at anyone in particular and suggest unshared, solitary emotions.
Symbols such as chairs, slippers and archival materials are used in a repetitive manner to address social and political tensions between governments and societies affected by regional instabilities. The ambiguity of the location and poses are carefully chosen by the artist to emulate a time of social upheaval and displacement. Isolation is often reflected in monochromatic tone, the absence of a body in chairs, or feet in slippers; bursts of colour are used to place emphasis on transition. Untitled Life presents observations in symbolic pieces that provide personal and political narratives beyond his locale.

Source: contemporaryand.com


CHAIRS, SLIPPERS AND CONTEMPORARY ETHIOPIA: THE WORK OF EPHREM SOLOMON
Addis Rumble, August 2013

In many ways, the work of Ethiopian artist Ephrem Solomon differs from the prevailing artistic style ones generally comes across in Ethiopia. Although his works are also two-dimensional and on canvas, a strong graphic approach makes his works stand out in the midst of the ever-dominating painting, be it figurative or abstract.
Solomon was born in Addis Ababa in 1983, and developed an interest in art early in his life. After high school he pursued this interest and obtained a diploma in fine art and graphic design in 2009. His portfolio features clear traces of an upbringing in graphic design and his works are often very descriptive and literal. He is largely occupied by the world around him; the city of Addis Ababa, its people, places, spaces and nature. Various objects such as the signature chair and slippers are incorporated as a reflection on broader political and social issues. ‘’My works portrait the distance between what the governed people needs and wants and what is the response to them from the governors, and I have tried to picture as precisely as possible the actual and innocent feeling of the governed,’’ Solomon explains.
With a limited color-scale and a somewhat minimalistic style, Solomon combines the tradition of woodcut and collage with graphic design and creates compelling contemporary artworks that balance various artistic styles, traditions and eras. “In a world where newness has become a value in and of itself, I am more moved by the compliment that what I am doing technically feels like something from the past, while embodying something that is currently relevant”. Solomon reflects on the different dimensions of society and time that he experiences in contemporary Ethiopia where modern and traditional lifestyles both clash and go hand-in-hand creating an a tense and prospective atmosphere that serves as an ideal playground for an artist.

Source: addisrumble.com


CHAIRS, SLIPPERS AND CONTEMPORARY ETHIOPIA; THE WORK OF EPHREM SOLOMON
by Karen Obling, 18th September 2013, The Guardian

Artist reflects on the way modern and traditional lifestyles both clash and combine in the present
Ephrem Solomon's work differs from the prevailing artistic style inEthiopia in many ways. Although his art is also two-dimensional and on canvas, a strong graphic emphasis makes it stand out from the ever-dominant paintings, be they figurative or abstract.
Solomon was born in Addis Ababa in 1983, and developed an interest in art early. After high school he studied fine art and graphic design, which shows in his portfolio. His works is often very descriptive and literal, focusing on the world around him; the city of Addis, its people, places, spaces and nature. Objects such as the signature chair and slippers are incorporated as a reflection on broader political and social themes.
"My works portrays the distance between what the governed people need and want and what the response is from the governors. I have tried to picture, as precisely as possible, the actual and innocent feeling of the governed," Solomon says.
With a limited colour-scale and somewhat minimalistic style, Solomon combines the tradition of woodcut and collage with graphic design, and creates compelling contemporary artworks that balance different styles, traditions and eras. "In a world where newness has become a value in and of itself, I am more moved by the compliment that what I am doing technically feels like something from the past, while embodying something that is currently relevant," he says.

Source: theguardian.com