In Ethiopia, the project of modernity is one characterised by the collision between tradition and cross-cultural associations. Abebe’s schematic compositions recall the scales of Ethiopian Jazz, as much as they do an impressionistic rendering of the European nude. Rooted in an urban locality, his practice is increasingly concerned with questions of modern surveillance and human interaction in the face of new technologies (Project X, 2014). While rapid development of technology is galvanising change in cosmopolitan Africa, it has brought about the alienation of traditional values within certain communal groups and societies. The artist gives form to a vision of human experience that is uprooted from an everyday reality; his occupied subjects seem to be caught within the revolutionary current of Ethiopia’s past, one marked by the inescapable shadows of landless citizens.

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