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Ethiopia: Maitre Artist Afewerk Tekle dies at age of 80
Ethiopia's renowned painter, the Most Honorable Maitre Artist World Laureate Afewerk Tekle has died in Addis Ababa on Tuesday at the age of 80. The late Afewerk died while he was being treated in a hospital here in the capital Addis Ababa due to a severe illness.
The late Afewerk was born on 22 October 1932 in the town of Ankober from his mother Weyzero Felekech Yematawerk and his father Ato Tekle Mano.
Afewerk joined the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London after sent to England in 1947 to become a mining engineer and later he went to the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of London, the famous “Slade”.
After he completed his studies he returned to Addis Ababa where he held a one-man exhibition at the Municipality Hall in 1954, which was the first significant art exhibition of post-war Ethiopia, according to the painter’s official portal.
Soon after the exhibition, he left Ethiopia for a study tour in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Greece.
He also made a special study of the Ethiopian illustrated manuscripts in the British Library, the Bibliothẻque Nationale in Paris and the Vatican Library, thereby gaining a deeper knowledge of his own artistic heritage.
After returning to Ethiopia, Afewerk opened his studio in the National Library of Ethiopia.
Soon afterwards he was assigned by the Ethiopian Government to decorate St. George’s Cathedral, one of the capital’s important religious edifices, where he worked on murals and mosaics for three and a half years.
Though his interest in sculpture was second only to that in painting, Afewerk had produced the equestrian stature of Ras Makonnen of Harrar.
After 1959 his reputation grew within the country and internationally as his mastery over so many media was established.
His drawings, paintings, murals, mosaics, stained-glass windows and sculptures, his designs for stamps, playing cards, posters, flags and national ceremonial dresses, all went to build up his position as Ethiopia’s foremost artist.
The playing cards were of particular interest in that they embodied a series of little-known Ethiopian motifs, some of them dating back to per-Christian times and thus introduced Ethiopia’s artistic heritage to the card-playing public.
Afewerk also designed his own house, studio and gallery, known as Villa “Alpha”.
The artist’s complex of buildings was conceived as a whole in 1959, but was realized in stages over a period of fifteen years, as a third of the proceeds of every exhibition abroad was devoted to the construction of the work.
His 1961 retrospective exhibition in Addis Ababa was a major landmark in the country’s artistic life.
One of the paintings exhibited is the well-known Maskal Flower which made its debut on this occasion, and has since been exhibited in the USSR, the USA, and at the Festival of Negro Arts in 1965 at Dakar, Senegal.
His paintings such as “Backbones of African Civilization” “African Movement”, “African Atmosphere” and “African Unity”, and for Expo 67 in Montreal, Canada, “Africa’s Heritage” which in now in the permanent collection of the National Museum of Ethiopia.
He also produced over ten designs for an African Unity emblem and flag.
Afewerk’s internationally famous stained-glass windows confronting the visitor in the entrance of Africa Hall, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, is one of his greatest achievements; it shows his mastery on a gigantic scale (150sq.m.) of a medium which has inspired artists ever since the Middle Ages, and it embodies in its three panels Africa’s sorrowful past, present struggle, and its high aspirations for the future.
In 1964 he became the first winner of the Haile Sellassie I Prize for Fine Arts for his outstanding drawings, paintings, landscapes, and portraits which eloquently express his particular world environment, and for his contribution in being among the first to introduce contemporary techniques to Ethiopian subject matter and content.
The award for the Order of "Hero of Peace of Friendship" from U.S.S.R in 1980, American Academy Membership Award, Cambridge Life time Achievement Award and membership in 1992 as well as the International Peace Prize Award in 2004 are among the awards he received.
The man enlightened not only Ethiopia but the globe with his thought provoking and brilliantly painted pieces. I am proud to know such a great talent was produced in my country. Everything he posted exhibited his love for his country.
Maitre Artist will be painting in heaven now.
He was one of the best of all great Artist in the world rest in peace we love you. “Mote Ayqerim Sim Ayqeberim”
What a tragedy to true Ethiopians. I own some of his pictures among other a mother Ethiopia with child,Afar man and an Ethiopia women with Amhara tradition cloth….
I am sure weyannes are poised him to get his wealth. I heard a few sad history of him, from 1960 when he was young and what happened to him by Adals shifta….
As his statements throughout his career indicated, and he repeated it on several occasions, it seemed Maitre Artiste Afewerk never played any one partisan role throughout his entire artistic life and negotiated nothing at the expense of his country. To those who reproached him on the class matters and historical, religious and political subject matter he created by commission, he would say “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” For those who accuse him of working for the rich oblivious to the poor and associate him with the dominant ideology and the ruling class he would say, “I am not an arbiter between the oppressors and the oppressed classes, and I was not born rich myself, I make myself who I am by working hard.” And for those who say that the Emperor created him, he would say it is the other way round – that he recreated the emperor the world and the Ethiopians created. In his proud, devotional and resolute attitude toward his country, he would say, “I have never been weary of serving my country. There is nothing to stop me, neither politics, gossip, what have you. In fact each and every obstacle drives me even more strongly and affirms my commitment to my country.”
C’est moi senait,
You see the degree of your insanity and being a slut woman? You even mebtioned Woyane in this completely unrelated issue. Did I hear you say woyane poisoned him? hahaha. How slut you are.
Also please leave aside the private affair of this great artist. Behave humanly at least when you write about our most reverend artist.
He was really an icon for the world of art. It is a very big loss for Ethiopia.
RIP., grand eminent painter, truth speaker and true doer, Afewerk Tekle ! Painter of all times !!
To his family, and his friends, artist fellows in Ethiopia and abroad, Bizu Birtatina metsnanatin emegnalehu!
Very very few people in the world don’t mess up with things they don’t know and charms they don’t posses: Fame, money, media-gitz, careerism, personality cult., etc might form some one to the better, they might also doom him/her to nothing, irrelevant nobody. These people in their lives with great care preserve their early precocity. Afewerk is one of those. Artists, journalists, literati’s and un/educated [rich/less affluent] working people should learn from his perseverance. To travel long in three political dynasties - ok, systems - like Afewerk’s journey is unheard of, even in the world art historicity. With that, also securing a place at the helm of the platform; sokkel, kept for undying ones - long enduring names, like ours’ Tekle, is some thing special.
Afewerk, Ethiopians will miss you much in person but
every body knows you have left unavoidable monument of grand scale in their heart - thus you remain in us.
one of your fans and listeners,
He was GLORIOUS ETHIOPIAN.
RIP gashe Afewerk! I remember that fancy convertible car of yours. I have a confession to make. While I was teenage boy, myself and my childhood friend Nigusse we tried to take out unsuccessfully the gold emblem welded on the side of your car. Your car was parked right down from your studio at National Library of Addis. On that beautiful gold insignia carved “Afewerk Wolde Negodgad”. Mr. Wolde Negodgad rest in peace.
He will be always the good mankind in earth and we love you Afewrqi.
In Woyane agame time we have lost a lot a true Ethiopians under their brutalist managetic system.
This ugly people killed first Prof Asrat,Tsgaye G.Medhin,aristic Tilahun ,Ato Mamo Wedneh and now this brilant Ethiopain great…..
What really happened to him? How is it that the story was not out how he died. I am sure TPLF has something to do with his death. TPLF is already at his house controlling all the wealth. As it was time to attack Amaras, they started with Afewerek Tekle the symbol of not just Ethiopia but Africa. I don’t think his death is accident. The police have already surrounded his house I heard. TPLF will sell or take all the wealth to higher bid. You will soon find out what happened to his wealth and house by next year. Knowing TPLF’s non tranparency, they have agenda. When a government is so secretive, be very worried. They probably killed millions of Ethiopians but we don’t know it 1. because we have burried our head in a sand 2. because they do it very secretly unlike Mengistu. Of course we wil never find out what happened to our greatest Artist, RIP
RIP!! You were one of the best artist ever existed in this world, and you will be remember forever!!
I just heard the bad news that Maitre Artist Afework Tekle passed away today at the age of 80. Well,
A person cannot command God. So all I can say is: may his soul rest in peace. Maitre Artist Afework Tekle was a free-thinking man known for his paintings not only within Ethiopia; but also throughout the globe. He was always thought provoking and produced brilliantly painted pieces. I am proud to have known Maitre Artist Afework Tekle in person and able to witness how a great talented nationalist Ethiopian he was at all times during his careers. Everything he produced reflected his deep love and affection to Mother Ethiopia. I do admire some of his paintings so keenly. Few among the many worth mentioning are: (1) Mother Ethiopia holding her child, (2) An Afar man (3) African Leaders on glass at the Economic Commission for Africa, and (4) an Ethiopia women with the Amhara traditional clothes. As a social person, Maitre Artist Afewerk was never a partisan politician as such. He remained a standing technocrat who left issues concerning politics, religion, economics, etc. are left for the professionals to handle them as they are trained and tailored best in these subject matters
It is a sad day in all of Ethiopia. The late Afewerk Tekle was a giant of a man in the art world for Ethiopia. He pioneered and presented the modern Ethiopian art to the world. His iconic work, I don’t know now but, was gracing the entrance of the old OAU building.
Death To Weyanes now!!!
Come on C’est moi senait,weygud… the guy actually LIVED 80 years unlike most of his contry men. Stop the BS.
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