Selamawit Mulugeta captures a contemplative aura through her figures in a ‘sea’ of intense blue. Her bold strokes coupled with organic forms and objects are deeply hermetic but earthly at the same time. Selamawit’s works are Inspired by the wealth of Coptic church artistic productions from the Christian heritage in Ethiopia dating back to the fourth century CE in Axum. A pearl of rich artistic wisdom following a particular iconographic aesthetic pronouncing the human eye as a figure. A transcendental way of presenting and discussing the ‘good’ and the ‘evil’. This has been expressed in a wide variety of paintings, religious murals, and illustrated manuscripts. Selamawit expands and builds upon this tradition by adding a layer of ostensible persona to her figures. She introduces figures that probe the past and the present, questioning notions of culture, modernity, and femininity.
In “conversations with blue”, A vast and intense blue space overflows the canvas and seemingly holds a treasure of answers and questions in relation to the deep gaze that the figures seem to evoke. The blue suggests Euclidean space while being a metaphysical space inviting dialogue. Selamawit confronts the female body as both a subject and an object as a commentary on social structures, gender and race. Discourses of femininity are explored and fused with everydayness. Her work delves into the conceptual interstice between space, time, history, and culture. She uses abstract and figurative mediums to enter a contemplative perspective that deals with the conscious and unconscious state of the human being.
Text written by Brook T. Haileselassie: Brook Teklehaimanot Haileselassie is an architect and artist from Ethiopia based in the Netherlands. He currently teaches at the Architecture Faculty in the TU Delft next to doing research on the topic of dwelling and Socio-spatial practices in Addis Ababa.