the idea of being an artist seemed bizarre and crazy for a lot of my life.
Emanuel, who was born and raised in Addis Ababa, does not know where the idea of becoming an artist came from – it’s simply something he always wanted to do. His parents wanted him to pursue practical career, but his gravitation to art was strong, even as a child.
One turning point in his artistic life was when he took part in a child art contest organized in Japan and won second prize. “I was surprised. Another acquaintance of mine who was a much better painter came out third. At the same time, I was reluctant to share this news to my parents. I thought they would get angry with me,” he recalls. As much as he got a great sense satisfaction from seeing his paintings being appreciated by the public, he was apprehensive when people approached him to ask if he would sell his paintings. “I never thought my paintings would sell. The idea kind of scared me,” he says.
In 2008, Emanuel joined the Ale School of Fine Art and Design. While at school, he found a job as an artist, drawing cartoons for a newspaper based in the United States. For each issue, he tried to come up with subtle and elegant illustrations. But Emmanuel didn’t finish his studies at the art school. He immigrated to Israel to join his father who was living in Jerusalem. He took Hebrew courses for a year and mastered enough to communicate and continued to paint during his stay in Israel.
After working for two years at Bel Technology, he returned to Ethiopia to be with his young son and wife. Today, living and working in Addis Ababa he is devoting most of his time to his artwork. His work is inspired by his eclectic view on his surroundings and most of his art is a reflection and a comment on society. Emanuel hopes that through his work he can show the international art community that contemporary art from Ethiopia can echo the changing cultural dynamics of the new generation of artist from the continent.