Dawit Abebe - New Now London Thursday, April 28, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Dawit Abebe, born in 1978, graduated from the Alle School of Fine Art and Design at Addis Ababa
    University with a diploma in painting, sculpture, graphics, photography and industrial design. In
    2001, he founded the Habesha Art Studio in his native Ethiopia, where he continues to be a full-time artist-in-residence. In addition to numerous successful international exhibitions across Africa, Europe and the Middle East, Abebe has also worked with charities such as UNICEF to hold workshops for street children in Arba Minch, Jinka and Addis Ababa. 


    Speaking about his experience as an artist in residence as part of the Africa First Residency program Abebe has explained: ‘Existence is based on conditions. And these conditions create reality. Yet, the situations we live in a given reality make us to be part of it or create our own reality. My family, the community and the religion that I grew up in Ethiopia bear greater affinity to Israel. Such conditions created a vivid picture and imagination about Israel which remained colossal throughout my life. Hence, I cheerfully accepted the invitation of the artist residency right away. I travelled to Israel with all the detailed pictorial accounts I had in mind. However, as the saying, ‘When you go there; there is no there’; my experience was completely different from what I have ever imagined. […] I was swiftly taken by the intensity of my 'new discoveries' through the trips I had to various parts of Israel. The constant unearthing of history, culture, economy, society, religion, politics, reality and what could be embedded in every minute details of my adventures made me realise the conditions that Israel is created. […]


    I began to materialise every bit of the complexities that Israel is made of. The ways and reasons that the people of Israel convened after 2,000 years; the peculiar notions of boarders and boundaries between Israel and Palestine; and the reality and conditions of "Ethiopian Israeli's" were among the augmentations that I reaped during my trips. Yet, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jericho, Haifa, Hebron, Jordan River and Dead Sea are some of the places that opened various doors that let me in and out of numerous inquiries and dissect a range of trajectories. That was how, where, and how I began to think about Existence. Though notions of history, language, race, religion and so forth that put human beings in conflict as well as the questions that one grapples to entertain the very essences of Existence are broader; the four pieces I created during the residency capitalised on the spectrums of existence based on the impressions I had as well as the inquiries I made that created a sort urge within me to articulate.’i


    Dawit Abebe has been the focus of notable solo exhibitions, including “Quo Vadis?” at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London in 2017, Background 2 at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London in 2015, Background 1 at Lela Gallery, Addis Ababa in 2014, and the 2012 X Privacy at the Alliance Ethio-Française, Addis Ababa. Abebe has also participated in group shows including Art Dubai, Dubai in 2017, the major 2016 group show What about Africa?, Witteveen Visual Art Centre, Amsterdam; Pangaea II New Art from Africa and Latin America, held at Saatchi Gallery, London in 2015, Concerning The Internal at Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi and Visibles/Invisibles at Fondation Blachere, Apt, both in 2015, the display of the Habesha Art Collection at the National Museum in Addis Ababa in 2014 and the touring exhibition Silver Sea Cross-Ship. In 2014, one of the works from Abebe’s X Privacy series sold for double its estimate at a major auction of East African art in Nairobi, Kenya and in 2017 he was named ‘Chevalier of Frances Order of Arts and Letters’. His work is held in international private and public collections, including the Barjeel Art Foundation, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, the Frank Cohen Collection, the Carole Server and Oliver Frankel Collection, and the Saatchi Gallery Collection. Abebe continues to gain international recognition.


    i Dawit Abebe, Artist’s Statement, Africa First Collection, online

    • Provenance

      Africa First Artist Residency, Tel Aviv
      Acquired from the above by the present owner



Existence 4

signed and dated 'Dawit Abebe 2018' lower right
graphite, charcoal and paper collage on cardboard
100 x 70 cm (39 3/8 x 27 1/2 in.)
Executed in 2018.

Full Cataloguing

£4,000 - 6,000 

Sold for £6,048

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Gibbs
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now
+44 20 7901 7993

New Now

London Auction 28 April 2022