A Chronology of 20th Century Ethiopian Art

1970Barbar and Worku Goshu's first show is held at Addis Ababa City Hall Gallery.
 
1970Mohammed Ali's (Capt.) first solo exhibition is held at Addis Ababa City Hall Gallery.
 
1970Kifle Beseat publishes the booklet An Introduction to Abstract Painting in Ethiopia. The first of its kind, it emphasizes the meaning of color, and its impact on the observer. Kifle is active in popularizing modern art.
 
1970Tewodros Tsege Marqos's first solo exhibition is held at the main Post office, Addis Ababa. The catalogue cover, which contains his self-portrait, resembles a pointillism technique.
 
1970Zerihun Yetmgeta's first solo exhibition is held at the Addis Ababa City Hall gallery. It incorporates collage, assorted objects and splashed paints with a variety of techniques. He experiments with forms which he continues to use for the rest of his carrier. Many of his woodcuts and prints utilize a spraying technique, which can be seen in his later work.
 
19701970-1974: Several group and solo exhibitions are held in Addis Ababa, and the provincial capital cities of Asmara, Awassa, Dessie, Gonder, Jimma, and Harar. The national Ethiopian radio and newspapers report on each and every show.
 
1971Tadesse Mamecha finishes ZERAY DERES, in concrete.
 
1971Bisrat Bekel paints THE IMMIGRANTS in gouache and collage.
 
1971Alemayehu Bizuneh's solo exhibition is held at the main Post Office, Addis Ababa. It contains small concrete and wood sculptures, some of which are used as studies for larger works. FATIGUE & GULBETE BERTA BERTA are two of his most important works acclaimed by critics.
 
1971The SEVEN ETHIOPIAN ARTISTS EXHIBITION, sponsored by the Ministry of Education and Fine Arts, opens at Haile Selassie I Theater. All participants are instructors at The Addis Ababa Fine Arts School. All, except Yigizu Bisrat, have received further training abroad. The group show concludes the first phase of modern Ethiopian sculpture and painting. Though significant, these works escape the pressures of the troubled times through their romantic expression. In the catalogue, Stanislaw Chojnacki writes : ""The environment, the exceptional luminosity of the very air of Ethiopia, and her centuries of culture are such powerful factors that we can confidently expect every artist to find himself as an Ethiopian artist, whatever training -most useful in itself- he has received.""
 
1971Leza Art Gallery opens on Churchill Road in Addis Ababa. Zerihun Yetmgeta and several other artists with surrealist tendencies exhibit in the gallery.
 
1971Teshome Bekele's first solo exhibition is held at the Lottery Hall, Addis Ababa.
 
1971Tadesse Belayneh finishes MOTHER AND CHILD , in concrete.
 
1971Felke Armede's first solo exhibition of woodcuts and graphic arts is held at the Belveder gallery, Addis Ababa.
 
1971Tassew Cherenet's first solo exhibition is held at the Haile Selassie I Theater, Addis Ababa.
 
1972Alemayehu Gebre Medhin, Kashun Abebe, Mamo Tessema, Tessfaye wolde, and many other artists exhibit in Addis Ababa.
 
1972A group called SIXTEEN YOUNG ARTISTS helds its exhibition in Asmera , Bahir Dare, Dire Dawa and Gonder. The group is formed at the Addis Ababa Fine Arts School, with Tibebe Terffa as its president. Their work is heavily influenced by Gebre Kristos and Skunder.
 
1972In the presence of His Imperial majesty, the Addis Ababa Fine Arts School receives the Hail Selassie I Prize Trust award in accordance with Article 15 of the Trust. Dr. Berhanu Abebe, director of the Trust, reiterates that the prize is a donation in kind of materials which are to last and serve the school for one full year.
 
1973Tecola Gebre Medhin's wild life painting exhibition, the first of its kind, is held at the Haile Selassie I theater, Addis Ababa. Tecola is a self-taught artist and an engineer by profession. He inspires many young students, including his own brothers.
 
1973Michael Gebreal Tewodros's first solo exhibition of naturalistic and impressionistic paintings of genre subjects is held at the main Post Office, Addis Ababa. As a young man in the early 1970s, he is often seen on a scooter with his canvas, roaming the outskirts of the city.
 
1973Lema Guya who initiated his brothers and children to be artists, publishes Teach Yourself Art, the first of its kind in the country.
 
1974Bekele Abebe finishes a high-relief sarcophagus in marble of Emperor Haile Selassie and Empress Menen. It will stay hidden during the time of the Derg.
 
1974Tadesse Mesfin achieves recognition with his painting WEARINESS. His specialty becomes the portrayal of the downtrodden masses and their habitat. His works at this time include THE SHOEMAKER and DAILY WORKER AT LUNCHTIME.
 
1974Students of the Addis Ababa Fine Arts School demonstrate against the bureaucracy and against problems in planning and lack of materials in the school, and several refuse to attend classes. They show their frustration posting graphic posters and writing graffiti on the school premises.
 
1975Tadesse Mamecha completes the concrete sculpture NIKATE an Afar, a replica of his 1971 graduate work at St. Petersburg Art Academy, USSR, and erects it on the north side of HSI National Theater in Addis Ababa. It is initiated by the intelligentsia, especially the poet and play writer Tsegaye Gebre Medhin, who is at this time Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Culture and Sports Affairs.
 
1975The Addis Ababa Fine Arts School is placed under the Ministry of Culture and Sports. Abdurahman Mohammed Sherif becomes the director of the School, replacing Ale Feleg Selam, the school's founder.
 
1975Censorship for art exhibitions is strictly enforced.
 
1975Eshetu Tiruneh paints VICTIM OF FAMINE, an emotionally shattering view of the 1970s exodus of famine victims.
 
1975The Ethiopian Government, Ministry of Posts, Telegraphs and Telephones inaugurates the National Postal Museum. The Museum is attached to the Addis Ababa main Post Office building. It contains a complete set of stamps printed in Ethiopia as well as abroad.
 
1975Record crowds heralding a new public interest in artistic and cultural exhibitions attend the EXPO OUR STRUGGLE.
 
1976The Addis Ababa Fine Arts School revises its curriculum based on socialist ideology.
 
1976Artists of every stature get involve in the Ethiopian Revolution, both through political activity and through their works, which embody ETHIOPIA TIKDEM and socialist principles.
 
1976Gebre Kristos Desta paints BLACK SUN, HUNGER and ZEMECHA.
 
1976Atlabachew Reda paints three works entitled SOCIALISM FOR THE MASSES, SOCIALISM IS REAPING and ETHIOPIA ON THE ROAD TO SOCIALISM.
 
1976Afewerk Tekle paints THE GIRL WHO LOST HER PARENTS BY THE FAMINE and THE PEASANT'S APPEAL.
 
1976Daniel Touafe paints ETHIOPIA FIRST.
 
1976Taye Wolde Medhin paints REVOLUTION.
 
1976Abdurahman Mohammed Sherif paints THE CHIQUA SHUM I & II.
 
1976Eshetu Tiruneh paints FORWARD WITH THE MASSES.
 
1976Yigezu Bisrat paints TORCH OF REVOLUTION.
 
1976Wosene Kosrof paints SERATEGNA SEFER.
 
1976Belay Gorfu paints CLASS STRUGGLE.
 
1976Twenty -one well known artists show their work at Haile Selassie I National Theater. The works focus on the effects of the horrible famine, the revolution and the Zemecha. Artists represented include Gebre Kristos Desta, Afewerk Tekle, Daniel Touafe, Abdulrahman Mohammed Sherif and Worku Goshu. The event undermines and discourages solo exhibitions.
 
1976The United Ethiopian Artists Association is formed.
 
1976Tadesse Gizawe creates THE PATRIOT, a unique assemblage of metal. He has experimented and refined the technique and the material for more than a 15 years.
 
1977Gebre Kristos completes a series of figurative paintings inspired by the famine and the Zemecha. His bold lines, colors and circular shapes are so convincing that anything he creates inspires his admirers.
 
1977The FIRST ANNUAL UNITED ETHIOPIAN ARTISTS ASSOCIATION Exhibition is held at the Addis Ababa City Hall gallery. It is intended to support the Derg slogan ""Ethiopia First,"" rather than present new creative endeavors.
 
1977Gebre Kristos Desta's retrospective is shown at the Addis Ababa City Hall gallery.
 
1977Ashenafie Wolde Yesuse's first solo exhibition is held at the Addis Ababa City Hall gallery.
 
1977Ethiopian artists participated in FESTAC'77, African arts festival in Lagos, Nigeria.
 
1977Esseye Gebre Medhin paints WEEK-END. Later, Sebhate Gebre Egziabeher writes in Ethiopian Herald: "" Week-end is a painting which gives one a clear notion of what a realistic art is like and should be."" Poet /writer Tsegaye Gebre Medhin writes in Addis Zemen , questioning and doubting the conflicting representation and meaning of the painting in relation to the time when it was painted.
 
19771977-1979: Afewerk Tekle paints the colorful political propaganda Triptych, The VICTORY OF ETHIOPIA THROUGH WORK, PRODUCTIVITY AND STRUGGLE. It has taken 19 months to finish. The famous critic Sebhat Gebre Egziabher writes in Yekatit: ""A realistic work, THE VICTORY OF ETHIOPIA does not need an aesthetically trained eye; it is comprehensible to all. The masses can enjoy and understand it.""
 
19771977-1980: As the revolution gets bitter, several prominent artists flee the country, others are imprisoned or harassed for failing to support the revolution.
 
1978A Travelling group show of Ethiopian Artists is held in Czechoslovakia.
 
19781978-1985: In Addis Ababa and elsewhere in the country, an unprecedented number of artists participate in painting, designing posters and creating sculptures for the cause of the revolution.
 
1979Addis Ababa Fine Arts School opens its annual exhibition at the Addis Ababa City Hall gallery, resulting in an increase in school applications over previous years.
 
1979Bisrat Bekele completes REVOLUTION, which was inspired by the 1974 uprising. The painting depicts large numbers of marching demonstrators, behind which a high-rise building and the statue of the Lion of Judah are shown. The painting is at the Hero Center in Debre Zeit.
 
1979Demessie Sheferaw finishes BALABAT, which is at the Hero Center in Debre Zeit. His romantic approach to landscape, with his clean colors and careful observation of nature, light and shadow, will influence many of his contemporaries including Mezgebu Tessema.
 
1979Worku Goshu paints MUSIC FOR BARBARA. Recovering from illness and surgery, he completes this amazingly colorful work. His later creations are painted using a broken brush stroke with sophisticated technique.
 
19791979-1987: Large numbers of students from the Fine Arts School are sent to Eastern Europe and the USSR. Many end up in western countries as a refugees, those who did return after finishing their studies play a very important role as art instructor and theoretician..