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FIKRU, Abstract Expressionist Painter

Globally renowned painter Fikru Gebremariam’s art is defined by a complex duality, at once both figurative and abstract. Keenly sought after internationally, original Fikru paintings hang in collections around the world. His pieces count among the most significant abstract expressionist art of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century.

“Painting is my vocation in the deepest sense; a vocation that constantly challenges me to let my spirit grow and observe life from fresh perspectives.”

FIKRU – A Life on Canvas

Fikru’s intended vocation was evident from a young age, and his studies began in earnest at the School of Fine Arts in Addis Ababa. Aged just 13, Fikru entered the limelight for the first time, winning an award at the prestigious International Children’s Painting Exhibition, Beijing.

Periods of study in Paris and the US were interspersed with time spent in his home city,Addis Ababa. Throughout his life, Fikru has displayed an urge to return to his roots in Ethiopia – both physically and through his ongoing artistic exploration of innately African

Erudite and eloquent, Fikru succeeds in vocalizing the mixture of instinct and raw emotion that drives his artistry; he has been featured on CNN Africa’s ‘African Voices’, TV5 International and several times on ETV as well as in international print media and online. Today, Fikru is widely considered among the foremost international abstract expressionist painters.

“When I was a very young artist, l used to appreciate skills like copying from nature and different artistic techniques that I understood at that point; now, I place more value in ideas, subconscious fantasy, and emotional feelings.
I strongly believe that the greatest place in this world is in my mind.”

See 175 FIKRU paintings in the Online Gallery

175×150 cm / Oil on Canvas / 2012

175×150 cm / Oil on Canvas / 2010

“I destroy again and paint again and again until I am satisfied and have captured the vision in my mind, spirit and subconscious.”

The Paintings: Redefining Abstract Expressionism

Fikru’s paintings challenge stylistic boundaries and reflect his internal evolution.Traditional, figurative elements are rarely far from the surface, manifesting themselves explicitly within Fikru’s early works, and more subtly within later pieces – where familiar
forms become increasingly abstracted.

Common themes include small groups of women engaged in simple, prosaic tasks. With the passing of time, these figures have merged into the background, becoming all at once more discreet and yet more integral to the structure of the painting. Again and again, Fikru has touched on this simple, established motif; it serves him as a base – a springboard
from which he has developed a unique fusion of the familiar and the new.

Fikru’s emotional engagement with his work hasn’t blinded him to the physical craft of painting, and he remains insistent on working with the highest quality materials to ensure the longevity of his pieces. After flirting with acrylics early in his career, Fikru’s focus turned to oil, and his large-scale abstract expressionist paintings in that medium have established his international reputation.

An Ethiopian Painter for the 21st Century

By Dr. Donald N. Levine

The work of Fikru Gebre Mariam has reached new levels of both aesthetic power and public recognition. The moment is ripe for looking back at Fikru’s oeuvre and taking a fresh look at his artistic development.Inspired to pursue an artistic career after winning an award at age 13 at the International Children’s Painting Exhibition in Beijing, Fikru began formal study at the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts, founded a half-century ago by the distinguished artist Ale Felege Selam, who introduced modern methods of teaching drawing and painting, which he had studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1950s.