The first time I saw the work of Ermias Kifleyesus it hit home. One of his works was stuck to the ceiling of the Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in the Biennale of Painting 2014 (Belgium). Close to it was a doodled work on blinds titled ‘All colors will agree in the Dark‘. How could I not remember an artwork with a title like that?
Ermias Kifleyesus (°1974) was born in Addis Abeba (Ethiopia) and lives and works in Brussels (Belgium). He makes drawings, paintings, films and installations.
Kifleyesus was granted a solo at Art Brussels 2015 (Gallery Kusseneers) and so while strolling through this art fair I took the time to discover more of his work.
In his recent work he started with damaged canvases left behind by second-hand traders at flea markets in Amsterdam. Using a chemical adhesive mix and sticking on thin cotton rags, Kifleyesus meticulously peels away the dirt, varnish and layers of paint from such a discovered composition. In this process, in which chance and imperfections play their parts, the resulting images give an insight into the artwork’s creation and degradation. Kifleyesus makes visible and destroys.
Before he has been focusing on a project located in international telephone cabins where he installed pieces of paper or canvas on the walls and tables that over time become covered with interactive marks, notations and traces that individuals leave as they talk on the telephones and wait for their calls to connect to all points of the globe. He visited the cabins every week and then finally removed the supports from the walls when he felt they were ready to complete in his studio.
Ermias Kifleyesus’ art engages existing marks and creations left behind by others. He wants to bring these together, rework, select and add to them. And in doing so he creates interesting personal notes on multiculturalism, migration, globalisation, over-consumption, and the overpopulation of large cities.
First picture shown from Artsy © Ermias Kifleyesus, Courtesy of Kusseneers Gallery. All other pictures taken by me at Art Brussels.