Fridman Gallery is honored to announce the representation and the first gallery exhibition of Ethiopian painter Hana Yilma Godine.
Godine's work is influenced by observations of her surroundings and social structures during her upbringing in the multicultural metropolis of Addis Ababa, and travels in Europe and the United States.
I think about painting as a space that mediates time and place, reconciling the past, present, and future into one unified form. Figures are central to my compositions. Their colorful, transparent, and collaged surfaces suggest embedded histories and embodied feelings. My practice has long focused on women–their bodies, as well as their social and societal roles. I work symbolically to communicate the complexity of their lives and see them as a source of life within my paintings.
Godine’s use of flattened perspective, evenly distributed light, and elongated figures brings to mind Ethiopian icons, and the work of modernist masters, such as Tadesse Mesfin, one of Godine’s teachers. Unlike western Christianity which sees Christ as manifesting two separate natures–human and divine, the Oriental Orthodox Church holds that Christ is fully human and fully divine in one indivisible physis (nature). Thus, biblical art in North Africa and the Near East was not subjected to the same rules of human reality (depth, shadow, scale) as it was in Europe, perhaps explaining why medieval Ethiopian iconography looks so profoundly modern.
Unburdened by the rules of realistic representation, Godine is able to bring parallel worlds onto a single plane without mixing them, to overlay exterior and interior spaces. Often grounded on traditional fabrics and yellowed newspapers, the paintings appear to time-travel, depicting the protagonist at different stages of her life, side-by-side.
Accumulation of mark and color, the layering of space, and the use of different materials, such as archival newspapers, allow me to describe the realities of a globalized world. Working with a spectrum of transparency and opacity, I communicate the sensations of an environment such as atmosphere, air, wind, and speed, all of which evoke the flow and movement of life. I draw in charcoal first, then lose the drawing as I apply color with paint, and later, find it again, pulling out certain forms. It’s like losing and finding your original self–this is what drawing means to me.
Featuring 12 works, each installed in a different way, and set to magical sounds of Ethio Jazz, the exhibition will take the viewer through coexisting histories and geographies, through psychological and architectural spaces defined by the paintings themselves.
Hana Yilma Godine graduated with an MFA from Boston University in 2020, having previously studied at the Abyssinia School of Fine Art and Design, and the Ale School of Fine Art and Design, Addis Ababa. Spaces within Space is the artist’s first show in New York. Her first solo institutional exhibition is scheduled to open at the National Museum of Ethiopia later this year.