Bringing Ethiopia to Beacon

Hana Yilma Godine

Hana Yilma Godine in her studio in Addis Ababa (Photo by Nathanale Taye)

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Following residency, artist’s work on display

How women inhabit their own spaces, when they occupy areas delineated by their gender, is the focus of many of the works by Ethiopian painter Hana Yilma Godine on display at Fridman Gallery Beacon through May 31.

The show, Substance in Ethiopia, features recent work Godine created during a three-month residency in Beacon. It includes wintry landscapes and lush florals, along with the Ethiopian-set studies, often made with oils and acrylics on canvas with elements of collage and textiles.

Some of the paintings connect with those presented earlier this year in a solo show, A Hair Salon in Addis Ababa, that ran simultaneously at Fridman in Manhattan and the nearby Rachel Uffner Gallery.

It has been a quick transition for Godine from graduate student — she received her master of fine arts from Boston University in 2020 after studying at the Ale School of Fine Arts and Design at Addis Ababa University — to professional artist. Her first solo show, Space Within Space, opened at Fridman soon after she graduated.

Substance in Ethiopia 7

“Substance in Ethiopia 7”

In the work she exhibited earlier this year, Godine depicts and celebrates the domestic spaces in which women can let down their guard in Ethiopia, particularly social settings in Addis Ababa in which men are not present.

Much of the work she created in Beacon focuses on fabric, which she has described as “a metaphor for the fabric of life, reflecting the multiple fashions, languages, religions and celebrations in Ethiopia. Experimenting with the body as a substance creates a connection that nature, weather, environmental phenomenon and culture have with love embodied in us.”

She notes that the earliest known human fossil, dating to 3.3 million years, was found in Ethiopia in 2000, making her country “the likely place of origin of the human race and of the body.” 

Godine’s paintings borrow from the traditions of Ethiopian iconography, particularly in regard to flatness, the elongation of faces, vivid colors and specific light. However, the subject matter, bold colors and use of fabrics make it clear that these are works of the present.

The artist spent her time in Beacon living in an apartment and working in a studio behind the Fridman, and brought along marketplace fabrics from Ethiopia typically used to make dresses. “I look forward to pinning them up on a wall of my new studio and considering what they will become,” she told Art.net.

Godine has returned to Ethiopia, where she keeps her studio. Her country has been wracked by civil war, although there now exists what could be described as a shaky truce.

Fridman Gallery Beacon, at 475 Main St., is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. See fridmangallery.com.

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