Kristin HJellegjerde Gallery, London
Born in 1983 in Ethiopia, Ephrem Solomon observes his environment and presents socio-political works using woodcut and mixed media. Informing his work are views of the city and the people that inhabit the spaces around him, represented by symbolism and the use of archival material, which provide personal and political narratives beyond his locale.
In his second solo show at Kristin Hjellegjerde, Silence he presents all new works, musings that have taken on a darker turn, as he parses through thoughts on life, death and physical and mental boundaries.
Amongst the geometric shapes that fill the backgrounds, and the etched lines that stretch around mouths and foreheads, it is the peoples expression that draws us. At times confrontational, at others, looking off into an unseen distance, eyes are doleful, hopeful, despairing and questioning. They brim with emotion, and time, memories and experience are literally carved into faces, evident in under-eye bags, laugh lines around mouths, or worried furrows on foreheads. Solomon’s works present a view of the urban environment, and, within that realm, of the people that inhabit the spaces around him.
The motif of the chair appears repeatedly as well, representing past, present and future authority.
These works are the product of a year that has witnessed the artist spend ever increasing time by himself in silence, producing a series of works meditating ‘out loud’, as it were, on concepts of life, death, freedom, faith and happiness. They touch on borders – issues of travel and migration, as well as national boundaries – both physical and mental. Together, these blockades limit the free flow of human experience as they curb our ability to be creative individuals without hindrance. Solomon also ruminates on mortality, spurred by the tragic passing of a family member.
“I have experience the silence in death,” he explains. “The fact remains that death is the end of life… or at least life as we know it. Death, dying and the afterlife are all shrouded deep in mystery, cloaked in darkness and generally surrounded by fear and apprehension.” Death need not be a source of such apprehension, argues Solomon, for within this final act there is also beauty and the ability to re-examine our own perspective of life, and what is important to us in the hear and now.
Solomon has exhibited internationally, including shows in Ethiopia, Kenya, Dubai and Croatia, Australia and the UK. His works are held in private collections in Dubai, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and the UK, including the Saatchi Collection.
Ephrem Solomon's Silence is on view at Kirstin Hjellegjerde Gallery: 6th Jan - 3rd February