Tag Archives: African Art Collector

ArtAfrica | MERON ENGIDA HAWKE | Hummingbird

18 May

New paintings and sculptures by Meron Engida Hawke showcase modern Ethiopia through religious tableaux


11 May 2023

Festooned with flowers and animals imbued with symbolic weight, Engida Hawke’s new exhibition tells the story of market imperialism and feminist resilience in the artist’s homeland.

Meron Engida Hawke, Highlander 2, 2023. Acrylic, woven cotton fabric, yarn and pearl on canvas, 51 x 81 in.. Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art.

Morton Fine Art is pleased to present Hummingbird, an exhibition of mixed-media paintings and sculptures by artist Meron Engida Hawke. Made up of works from the artist’s series ‘Teff Teffa’, ‘Ashenda Girl’ and ‘Highlander’, alongside still lifes in a muralist style, the exhibition tackles issues of migration, marginalisation and resistance in contemporary Ethiopia. The artist’s second solo show with the gallery, ‘Hummingbird’ will be on view from the 16th of May until the 9th of June, 2023, at Morton Fine Art’s Washington, D.C.

A native of Addis Ababa now living in D.C., Meron Engida Hawke’s artwork explores Ethiopian identity, sustainable agriculture, labor relations and women’s issues in contemporary East Africa. Struck by how the perception abroad of Ethiopia and Africa is consistently framed through media stories of famine, climate crises and war, Engida Hawke explores these issues from the inside, generating subjects in her work that are both archetypal and specific, each of whom embodies the perspective of Ethiopian womanhood while proudly acknowledging the gaze of another. Deftly weaving contemporary news items and personal interests into her portraits with a symbolist’s shorthand, the artist takes apart and rearranges stereotypical representations of Ethiopia while focusing on the beauty of the country’s traditions and cultures.

Heavily influenced by ancient Ethiopian art, Engida Hawke’s vibrant colours and crisp narrative subjects derive from the murals and religious paintings that populate the walls of Addis Ababa. Creating from memory and imagination and research into her subjects, the artist starts with a basic tableau that she gradually layers with tones, figures and symbolic metonyms. Her recent work involves the development of a mixed-media practice that layers Ethiopian woven fabric onto canvas – an innovation inspired by recent news of Ethiopian clothing being mass manufactured with synthetic materials. Engida Hawke’s inclusion of the handwoven fabric, as a testament to her heritage, shares pictorial space here with animals and pearls – part of the artist’s innate visual lexicon of innocence, forgiveness, elegance and justice. Weaving the weighted symbols of her native culture into increasingly disparate and secular works, Engida Hawke elaborates a narrative that telegraphs from the heart of Ethiopian identity into the cacophony of global media and international affairs.

Meron Engida Hawke, Teff Teffa 9, 2022. Acrylic on canvas, 66 x 49 in. Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art.

In the artist’s ‘Teff Teffa’ series, women practice the ancient rite of cultivating teff, a small grain used to make injera, the foundational flatbread of Ethiopian cuisine. The word teff comes from the Amharic teffa, meaning “lost” – a reference to the fact that the grain is so small that dropping one makes it impossible to find. Teff has been cultivated in Ethiopia for more than 6,000 years, a staple food for over 80 ethnic groups in the region and central part of Ethiopian national identity. Today, teff has grown increasingly expensive to harvest and mill as a result of increasing global demand, as well as regional armed conflict and drought caused by climate change. Engida Hawke references the devastation of proverbial “lost teff” in her backgrounds, dotted with the minuscule seed, while in the foreground she addresses the social and environmental effects of flower farming – a newly inedible cash crop for the region – dependent on its export to Europe and the subservience of women’s labor across eastern Africa.

Meron Engida Hawke, Ashenda girl 4, 2023. Acrylic, woven cotton fabric, yarn and pearl on canvas, 16 x 16 in. Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

By contrast, Engida Hawke showcases the underrepresented side of the Ethiopian experience in her ‘Ashenda Girl’ series by depicting women in moments of joy, freedom and righteous resistance. The series title references Ashenda, a colourful religious festival celebrated every August in northern Ethiopia by women and girls. Taking its name from a tall grass that is woven into skirts and worn for the duration of the three-day festival, the Ashenda girls also dress in traditional embroidered dresses, with fine jewellery and braided hair. The celebration is a joyous occasion of song and dance – an opportunity for the embrace of feminine self-expression.

The exhibition’s title, ‘Hummingbird’, comes from a story told by the late Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai, in which a hummingbird shows bravery by fighting a forest fire with only the water that can fit in its beak. The other animals, much larger and more capable, watch with a sense of futility while their habitat burns, but the hummingbird knows that every little bit helps. Engida Hawke connects this story to her personal experience in addressing social and climate issues through her art, and has recently taken to including mixed-media hummingbirds in her mesmerising compositions of women like her, representing the freedom of empowerment through knowledge.

Meron Engida Hawke (b. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) creates vibrant tableaus that act as a vehicle for exploring the artist’s personal experiences and Ethiopian cultural identity. Through trust in the mark-making process, Engida has developed a rich visual vocabulary that draws influence from the colours and narratives of ancient Ethiopian art. At the intersections of abstraction and figuration, Engida’s works centre a cast of expressive figures who together tell stories of vulnerability, empowerment, and resilience. Fusing memory and imagination, Engida layers tones, symbols and motifs to construct emotive scenes intended to prompt dialogue about migration, diversity and women’s experiences. Enigda Hawke holds a BFA in Fine Art from Addis Ababa University School of Fine Arts and Design. She currently lives and works in Washington, DC.

The exhibition will be on view from the 16th of May until the 9th of June, 2023. For more information, please visit Morton Fine Art.

Available Artwork by MERON ENGIDA HAWKE

Mozambican textile artist LIZETTE CHIRRIME speaks to her inspiration and art practice

2 May

Video credit: Jarrett Hendrix

Working primarily with recycled materials, Lizette Chirrime’s practice has a marked foundation in personal and traditional spirituality. Chirrime describes her creative process as “a prayer to the Universe”–an intention to heal the earth from overconsumption, pollution and greed. Sourcing scrap materials from her environment and immediate communities, Chirrime uses fabric, burlap, rope, paint, beads, leather and more to produce dynamic collages that speak to African womanhood, and more broadly, the human condition. Finding inspiration in the natural world–the vastness of the ocean, the hues of the sunrise, the evolution of a storm–Chirrime’s pieces are layered with a poetic consideration for what she calls “the essence of life.”

Her solo exhibition “Rituals for Soul Search” is on view at Morton Fine Art in Washington, DC by appointment through May 22, 2022.

Visit http://www.mortonfineart.com to view available artwork by LIZETTE CHIRRIME.

Short Video / Artist Talk by OSI AUDU on his solo exhibition “A Sense of Self” at Morton Fine Art

18 Dec

“A Sense of Self” A solo exhibition of new drawings, paintings and sculpture by OSI AUDU

December 8th, 2021 – January 15th, 2022

Contact the gallery for viewing by appointment, price list, additional information and acquisition.

Complimentary catalogs available upon request.

(202) 628-2787 (call or text)


About “A Sense of Self”

Morton Fine Art is proud to present A Sense of Self, a solo exhibition of new works by Nigerian multimedia artist Osi Audu; on view from December 8, 2021 – January 15, 2022.

Working across drawing, painting and sculpture, Audu considers notions of internal and external dualities, most distinctively, the Yoruba sense of “outer and inner head.” The works–geometric abstractions made alive with vibrant shades of blue, red, green, yellow and black, reflect Audu’s celebration of color as a manifestation of interior human essence. Each of the pieces in A Sense of Self are presented as self-portraits, which Audu articulates to be “the portraits of the intangible self.”

In conversation with classical African aesthetics, Audu’s works examine the human head as an axis of material and subliminal consciousness. In this sense, the artist captures what exists prior to and beyond embodiment, the self outside of matter. Though many of his pieces are rich in color, at their core, each one is a rumination on blackness—that which is imperceivable by the human eye. In works reminiscent of scientific illustrations, Audu gives image to internal expressions of the self, investigating the mechanisms and shapes of the human spirit.

As studies of visceral perception, Audu’s portraits ask questions such as, what might the intangible self look like after donning a Dogon bird mask; or after wearing an Efik headdress? His answer to the former is: four sharp rectangular shapes, with a free-form waved appendage; to the latter: a gently coiled form, with two flat surfaces. To Audu, these questions are neither anomalous nor incidental. Instead, they are essential vehicles for investigating what is nestled between the layers of the mind, body and personal identity that we each understand ourselves to have. A Sense of Self provides a deeply personal visual language for examining the complex structures of being. At once dynamic and uncomplicated, these works leave the audience with questions about themselves.

OSI AUDU received a B.A. in Fine Art with First Class Honors from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and an M.F.A. in Painting and Drawing from the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA. He has been exhibited at, and collected by, public Institutions including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., The Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey, USA, The British Museum and the Horniman Museum, both in London, and the Wellcome Trust Gallery in London. Audu’s work has also been exhibited at the Tobu Museum and Setagaya Museum, both in Japan, the Liverpool Museum in England, the Science Museum in London; and acquired for corporate collections including Microsoft Art Collection, Sony Classical New York and the Schmidt Bank in Germany. Audu has been represented by Morton Fine Art in Washington, D.C. since 2012.

Available artwork by OSI AUDU

Wallpaper Magazine, Victor Ekpuk and Prizm Art Fair 2020

4 Dec


Prizm Art Fair gives a platform to African Diasporic perspectives

Coinciding with Miami Art Week, Prizm Art Fair is championing and examining the intersections of African cinema traditions and visual art

Sthenjwa Luthuli, Reaching For Stars (2020)

In spite of widespread coronavirus-related hurdles, 2020 has offered glimmers of hope for the art world, particularly in the steps taken to highlight, and rectify the lack of diversity across the industry.

One art fair, Prizm, has been spotlighting diverse voices in contemporary visual art since 2013, with a core mission to widen the scope of international contemporary art from Africa and the African Diaspora.

By carving out a space for cross-cultural exchange in Miami and beyond, the fair seeks to address socio-political and cultural issues pertinent to people of African descent, while educating and nurturing the city’s inhabitants.

Victor Ekpuk, Mother Series #1 (2019) as seen at Prizm Art Fair. Image courtesy of Morton Fine Art

‘African Diasporic communities have attempted repeatedly to blanket themselves from a host of incessant obstacles – systemic injustice, racism, economic disparity, gender inequality – while the goal post of progress stretched farther away with each giant leap made towards it,’ says Mikhaile Solomon, founder and director of Prizm.

For its eighth edition, coinciding with an unsurprisingly scaled-down Miami Art Week, the fair’s online programme will feature 47 artists in ‘Noir, Noir: Meditations on African Cinema and its Influence on Visual Art’, an exhibition curated and organised by Solomon and interdisciplinary artist William Cordova. Noir, Noir references the African avant-garde film tradition and encourages a deeper understanding of global African identities through the intersection of cinema and contemporary visual art. Elsewhere, highlights include a programme of film screenings and talks led by leaders in Diasporic Visual arts.

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John Baloyi, Lititha 4 (2020). Courtesy of Dyman Gallery

Participating galleries hail from eleven countries including the United States, Caribbean and the African continent including Barbados, Ethiopia, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Saint Maarten, South Africa and Trinidad. Featured artists include Victor Ekpuk, Yanira Collado, Sthenjwa Luthuli, Alicia Piller, Justice Mukheli, Versia Harris and Milena Carranza Valcárcel. Prizm will also spotlight emerging Miami-based artists who engage in socio-political issues pertinent to people of African descent, and in the city’s growth as a cultural hub. 


Prizm Art Fair will be accessible online until 21 December 2020. prizmartfair.com

Link to Wallpaper* Article

Available Artwork by VICTOR EKPUK