Visual Arts

Nega brings Ethiopian culture to existence at Banana Hill


Nega Yilma’s portrait of The Elders at Banana Hill Artwork Gallery, on March 15, 2023. Photo | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | POOL

Nega Yilma crossed the border in between Ethiopia and Kenya for the 1st time carrying just two paintbrushes.

Not that he would not need to have a lot more than that to start his vocation as a painter of earlier acclaim.

He’d been winning art awards from the time he was twelve. He’d also been privileged to attend what he claims is the major art university in Africa, at the University of Addis Ababa.

But he’d preferred a modify, which he surely uncovered in coming to Kenya. On the optimistic aspect, it enabled him to exhibit his art everywhere from RaMoMa (when it was still positioned at Rahimtulla Tower in Upper Hill) and the Kenya Art Good (when it was nevertheless at Sarit Centre) to Banana Hill Gallery, College of Nairobi, and Karen Nation Club.


Nega Yilma’s Abstraction at Banana Hill Gallery, on March 15, 2023. Photo | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | POOL

The wonderful artwork of painting and exhibiting has by no means been a dilemma for Nega. It is the obstacle of staying alive that was problematic for this eccentric Ethiopian artist for a time.

It intended implementing his vibrant creativity to difficulties common people today wrestle with just about every day, these as how to put food items on the table, how to keep warm (or how to continue to be cool) when the temperature is opposite, and how to locate a safe and cost-effective put to sleep with a roof more than his head.

Speaking to the BDLife shortly just after his initial solo show opened at Banana Hill Gallery last weekend, Nega is shameless about outlining the work he was compelled to just take to endure.

“I’ve been almost everything from a security guard and gardener to a instructor, a boxer, and a nomad who has moved so quite a few areas considering that I first came to Kenya in 1997,” Nega claims.

He is also a good storyteller and very easily recalls how he has lived in all places from Loresho Ridge, Muthaiga, and Kitisuru to Eastleigh, Dagoretti Corner, and currently, Banana Hill, just a 5-minute walk from the Gallery.

“This is my initial solo exhibition in Kenya, and I’m joyful to be having it at Banana Hill Gallery,” states the 51-yr-aged former boxer.


Nega Yilma’s Solo male at Banana Hill Gallery on March 15, 2023. Picture | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | NMG

‘The Very last Born of Melody’ is filled with 40 paintings, primarily portraits (or parodies of selfie portraits), but also landscapes, seascapes, and colourful summary expressionistic illustrations or photos, a several of which are Nega’s response to the rock art not long ago observed in his residence nation.

Getting lived and worked in Kenya from 1997 up till early 2020, Nega adds that all these works ended up painted throughout the Covid lockdown in Addis.

This might have affected his portray of two will work on ‘The Elders’. Only one of them has an assemblage of intelligent aged guys who look like the embodiment of dignity.

The other is a singular portrait of a stunning aged male. Astonishingly, they are the only is effective in the demonstrate that are nearly hyper-real looking in their delicate notice to element, refined strains, and concentrate on the crucial characteristics of the men’s faces.


Nega Yilma’s The Few at Banana Hill Gallery on March 15, 2023. Image | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | POOL

Nevertheless Nega does not halt with faces. In the similar paintings, he also explores troubles of style and design and how a lot of different layout strategies can be squeezed into his men’s attire, be they on a tie, lapel, hat, collar or jacket.

They all have that multicultural allure of mixing and never ever matching the styles. It will work on the streets of Nairobi, and it also operates in Nega’s artwork.

His portraits all have that extended neck and long confronted-search that Nega suggests derive from his see of selfie devotees.

They are people today who achieve a feeling of satisfaction when they are in command of their selfie place.

They really don’t intellect sharing it with maybe 1 other, but no extra due to the fact they prefer possessing the concentrate of interest in what they take into account their manner of expression.

To them, their selfie is a work of art. It is these self-centred selfie people today that Nega paints.

Nonetheless he also paints sweet people like the two boys in the espresso plantation, the lady in the yellow dress, and the person with his saxophone about to give a Miles Davis-styled general performance.


Nega Yilma’s Elder of Ethiopia at Banana Hill Gallery, on March 15, 2023. Photo | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | POOL

Nega also normally takes notice of the remarkable variations that Nairobi has absent by in excess of the last two decades due to the fact Covid-19 kicked us out of our regarded lives and turned us all into indoor plants that were craving the light-weight of working day.

Lastly, the mild has occur, and so have the rains. Each bring us closer to Nega’s vivid jigsaw puzzles of style as properly as to his collection entitled ‘Looking for the light’ which reveals a conceptual side of the artist that is deep and deliciously fascinating.

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By Indana