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ART INDEX: Tiemar Tegene

Deconstructing the naturally constructed boundaries that exist within all human beings is the discovery and curiosity behind Ethiopian artist, Tiemar Tegenes’s (born in1985) work. After studying and earning her BFA at AAU Alle School of Fine Art and Design in 2009, Tegene honed in on her craft and became a full-time studio artist. Her pieces have been showcased in local group exhibitions such as The Ethiopian Spotlight in the Cycle Art Gallery in 2022, Contemporary African Art: The Dreams and Realities of Identity at the Lithuanian National Museum of Art in 2022, and MEDIATORS in the Contemporary African Art Exhibition at the Tumo Gallery along with many more. Tegene has even had her own solo show in 2021 at the Addis Contemporary II - 6 Years On exhibition in the Circle Art Gallery. But her creations don’t stop there. Tegene’s mastery and development of the printmaking and etching processes have allowed her to expand her reach, and she has even been requested to provide murals for the city of Addis Ababa. Collaborating with other amazing Black artists, Tegene has a tendency to work with like minded creators which can be seen in her work with Medium Tings, a roving gallery and project space for art and dialogue founded by Stephanie Baptist. Tiemar Tegene is an artist to watch as the provoking and eye-catching etching within her pieces captures a level of emotional connection that can sometimes be lost within a body of work. Tegene has a natural ability to express own emotional experiences as well as her relationships and interactions with others. Furthermore, she creates her work through spontaneity and experimentation by developing the styles she has studied and seeing how she can foster her abilities to fully showcase the images that come to her mind. Tegene incorporates emotionally driven backgrounds to create moving images of black bodies in an abstract and unique way. Her bold use of color and intentional use of texture drive home the motivation behind making such pieces. Inspired by all interactions within the human experience, Tegene is the true definition of a sponge and finds a certain uniqueness in what most may not pay attention to in their day-to-day life. Tiemar Tegene focuses on laughter, crying, and arguing as well as the solemn and pure emotional rollercoaster of existing. This unique artists transmutes the aspects that generate humans into stilled works of art to reflect an abstract yet familiar mirror back at the viewer.

Tegene’s work is thematic in the sense that each piece tells the viewer a fully developed story based on the tone of the piece. Her work is a reflection of the natural occurrences within a person’s existence. For example, I Dreamt of a Butterfly from 2022 demonstrates Tegene’s strong and purposeful use of etching and color to bring forth a striking image of a sleeping person enveloped in their bed with a butterfly nearby. The meaning behind the piece is that we often dream of the things surrounding us as we sleep. Oftentimes our dreams are soft and gentle and provide peace rather than harm us.

I dreamt of a butterfly (2022, Fig. 1) Drypoint with acrylic and pastel Signed recto Unique 26 × 20.125 in (66 × 51 cm), courtesy of James Fuentes Art Gallery

Tegene’s work is as diverse as the emotions she is trying to convey. The human experience isn’t one-note; it comes in all shapes and forms, and whether based on sorrow or happiness, every person’s has a different tone. This is why it is important to view Tegene’s work as a whole story rather than several versions of the same narrative. For reference, Tegene has many other pieces showcasing different and unique visuals of poetry on display in the James Fuentes Gallery.

Tegene’s work is extremely versatile. For example, What do you see when you look at me? (2022, Fig. 2) takes on a bold approach compared to I Dreamt of a Butterfly. Specifically, there is a striking use of color, and as a result, the color choice automatically attracts the viewer’s attention to the face of the figure whose eyes hold a much larger story. This piece and title successfully urges viewers to ask themselves: What do you see?

What do you see when you look at me? (2022, Fig. 2) Drypoint with acrylic and pastel Signed recto Unique 15.75 × 11.75 in (40 × 30 cm), courtesy of James Fuentes Art Gallery

Overall, Tiemar Tegene’s pieces speak to the human experience in all of the multifaceted ways that are often ignored or not seen in an artistic light. Tegene chooses to focus on the different nuances of emotions felt within the day-to-day flow of general life. The artist’s ability to define these emotions in such visual ways that might not be interpreted by others is truly a study. Although Tegene’s natural curiosity and personal goal to be able to understand human beings in such a way is truly what makes her work so unique, she is still growing and expanding her skillset so she will always have an everlasting wheel in the world of contemporary art. Many more of Tegene’s pieces can be admired at the James Fuentes Art Gallery. Her work captures many different narratives and various routes of expression that make each piece worth viewing. Interested parties can see or purchase her pieces on

Out of nowhere (2022, Fig. 3) Drypoint Signed recto Unique 15.75 × 11.75 in (40 × 30 cm) Courtesy of James Fuentes Art Gallery



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