“Nigs”, a five-meter long painting, shows priests, young and old, celebrating a spiritual holiday, in a detailed and vibrant church scene.

Artist Mezgebu Tesema says it took him three years to finish, and this along with other works by Mezgebu are on display in the Ethiopia National Museum.

The style of Mezgebu differs from the traditional two dimensional (2D) paintings. “Three dimensional (3D) painting is intended to bring objects closer to audience, escaping the canvas boundary,” he explains. “Unlike 3D, 2D painting displays images away from a canvas. It’s like looking through a window. To the opposite, 3D goes over the edge of a canvas, as if it were a statue.”

In Mezgebu’s opinion there isn’t such a thing as a two dimensional physique. “I say if two dimensions is only a concept, and everything exists in three dimensions, why not apply three dimensions to paintings too?”
Paintings like “Kefita” (Height), “Gilet” (The Heat) and “Metelalefia” (The Passage) show mountainous areas, animals and people. Mezgebu elaborates on “Hilmegna” (The Dreamer), “The painting shows a young man sitting at the top of a mountain. The plateau’s structure cannot exist in real life, but the dream makes everything possible.”

Of all the paintings, “Esua ena Lelochu” (Her and Others), holds a special place for Mezgebu. He says the woman lying on her back symbolizes nature, and also related is “Yetezerega” (Stretched), which shows the natural beauty of Adwa, usually known for stories of war.

There are verses under some of the paintings, which Mezgebu says “are representations of my first impression when something special strikes me”. He then quotes Greek, saying: “Painting is a poem, to be seen, and poetry is a painting, to be heard.”

Mezgebu joined Ale Art School in 1968 (Ethiopian calendar), and taught there after he graduated. In 1974 he left for Russia, where he studied art for six years; currently he is back teaching at Ale Art School. The exhibition is open until December 2.

By Meheret Selassie Mokonnen (thereporterethiopia)

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