25 December 2016

Ethiopia: 'The African Monalisa of 21st Century'

"The history, culture and civilization of a country is best bequeathed and revealed to the next generation through painting art, literature and music. A country which does not allow a room for these towering professions is just like a mad person who wanders naked. Therefore, African leaders must stomach this reality and open their eyes wide for professionals in the field," this is a quote this reporter took from the famous self made artist Dr. Lema Guya.

For Dr. Lemma Guya art is the reflection of the social, political and economic aspects of human kind. That is why for the last 60 or more years he had been discerningly capturing the life style of human kind in his peculiar skill of using "goat skin canvas." For the last six and more decades he has painted innumerable portraits and avant-garde artistic works. "The African Monalisa of 21st Century" is one of his works via which Dr. Lemma Guya displayed he has touched the peak of his calling--painting . This gem, among his works, showcases a portrait of Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission.

For Lemma, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is not simply a woman. For most African women, holding such prestigious political power is beyond their imagination. For ages, all the social and cultural constraints have tied them down from achieving such political power. However, individuals like Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma have overcome such constraints through hard work, talent, perseverance and commitment.

Founding fathers of Africa was a recent art exhibition at Oromia Art Center staged by Dr. Lemma Guya. The opening ceremony of the exhibition, held last week, was graced by Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and the former President of FDRE Dr. Girma Woldegiorgis and other distinguished guests. On the exhibition the portraits of African nationalist leaders were staged. As usual, Lemma Guya had depicted them in his goat skin canvas -uniquely African.

The painting of Queen Elizabeth is among the pictures already staged at the Oromia Exhibition Center. In his painting, Lemma has depicted Queen Elizabeth sitting gracefully. Behind the queen a sun is seen bathing the planet earth to show how England was powerful during the era of the queen. On the other side, there is a standing young queen minus a crown. Unlike the former pictures where the sun is seen shining on the earth from the sky in the other painting, the sun shows a position shift. It is seen shining from the earth to the sky.

According to Dr. Lemma, unlike the outmoded and old mindset when Europeans were fighting and scrambling for power ,now, "Space" has zoomed to the center-stage of attention. In this new era, developed nations are eyeing at the "sky"

where the sun is shining on the planet earth. The painter used this technique to represent the past and the current history of England. According to him, there was a time when almost the whole earth was under the rule of Great Britain. There was a belief among English colonizers to consider themselves as great people to the extent of claiming "The Sun will not set on the sky (empire) of England."

Lemma Guya is now 88. But his talented fingers are still busy in portraying via brushes the social, political and economic activities of human kind. Regarding his major works, he has made an estimate of more than ten thousand paintings that brought him numerous prices, medals and awards including honorary doctorate degree. Lemma Guya is the founder of African Art Museum in 1983.The museum is now becoming the art center for talented artists from Ethiopia, Africa and other parts of the world. Seeing the role of the art center Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma have donated 40,000 USD to it on behalf of the AU. The sum will be devoted to the expansion of the art center.

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