For the month of June, the Torpedo Factory Art Center partners with Alexandria’s St. George Art Gallery to host painter Daniel Taye, of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in the New Project Studio.
Once named by CNN as the “Van Gogh of Ethiopia,” Taye traveled from Africa to participate in this month-long residency. His work has been shown at St. George Art Gallery for more than 15 years and some of his work is on permanent exhibition.
“I praise the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s collaborative energy and inclusiveness to engage with us as we highlight Daniel Taye, one of Ethiopia’s leading artists,” said Saba Alene, owner of St. George Art Gallery. “People now have a unique opportunity to personally meet and interact with an Ethiopian contemporary artist. This partnership will highlight the hidden beauty of Ethiopia to the Alexandria community, exposing its modern art and culture to the Torpedo Factory’s many summer visitors.”
Taye is known for his evocative landscape and figurative work as he experiments with different mediums, color composition and depth. He has been described as an artist who inspired more puzzled expressions than praise, but his uninhibited flow of thought and rare perspective are ultimately his forte. Taye’s paintings do not fit the usual categories of Ethiopian fine art, traditional religious art, or abstract impressionism, but the strokes and the enchanting color schemes over the canvas bring his work to life.
St. George Art Gallery, which has locations in both Alexandria and Ethiopia, was the first art gallery to open in Addis Ababa and is still considered the foremost gallery in the country. Through the years, it has catered to a number of dignitaries and heads of state over the years, including President Bill Clinton, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Natalie Portman, and Calvin Klein.
Taye grew up involved with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and eventually became a deacon. The church played an important role in his education and was the cornerstone of his formative years. He entered the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts in the late 1980s, and graduated with Distinction in 1990. He worked on the Gold Mine Documentation Project for the Ministry of Mining until 1993. His art has been exhibited in numerous venues throughout Ethiopia such as the National Museum, Goethe Institute, and Italian Cultural Institute. His work has also been showcased in the United States, Europe, and Africa.
He is spending June working in the New Projects Studio (Studio 8), which is a new endeavor for the Torpedo Factory Art Center that offers a short-term space to test new program ideas, spotlight underrepresented voices, and enhance community engagement. Tenants rotate on a regular basis.
“The New Project Studio is one way that we hope to support new creative collaborations with neighboring organizations and partners,” said Eric Wallner, CEO of the Torpedo Factory. “The goal of any project we host in the space is to inspire the next generation of artists, innovators, arts supporters, and diverse voices. St. George Art Gallery has been a wonderful partner and we are grateful to them for bringing Daniel Taye to Alexandria for this initiative.”
Sunday, June 26
The public is invited to meet Taye and hear him speak about his work during an after-hours reception on Sunday, June 26; 6 – 9 pm. In addition to St. George Art Gallery, the Torpedo Factory will also welcome the Ethiopian Community Development Council, the Ethiopian Community Center of Washington, DC, the Ethiopian Community Center in Maryland, and the Young Ethiopian Professionals. A speaker from the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art will also paint a picture of how Daniel’s work fits into contemporary Ethiopian art. The evening will also feature a sampling of Ethiopian foods and music.
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(via Torpedo Factory Art Center. Photo courtesy of Torpedo Factory Art Center.)