Abel Tilahun: Vital Signs
American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington, DC, United States27 Jan 2018 - 11 Mar 2018
Vital Signs explores universal human experience through the manifold meanings we associate with the human body, its parts, its sustenance, and its loftiest ambitions. Curated by Meskerem Assegued Vital Signs reflects Abel Tilahun’s multidisciplinary practice in sculptural installation, video art, drawing, and painting, linked by consistent semiotic concerns. At the heart of his work are traces of both the cutting edge and the long arc of history.
A recurrent theme in Abel’s work is the connection between the microscopic inner worlds and macroscopic outer worlds we inhabit. His art considers both the distant realms of an almost forsaken planet in “Solo,” and the microscopic realm of the beating heart in “Heart of Gold.” With this zooming in and out, however, there is no whiplash. The common thread is the way in which Abel’s work foregrounds the value of the human experience within widely divergent contexts.
Born and raised in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Abel earned his BFA in Sculpture from Addis Ababa University’s Alle School of Fine Arts & Design. He earned his MA in Fine Art from Adams State University (ASU) in Colorado. He splits his time between his Addis Ababa studio and Washington, DC, where he has taught as an adjunct professor at American University and Marymount University.
Abel has shown solo exhibitions Odyssey? (2017) at Alliance Ethio-Francaise (AEF) in Addis Ababa, Interface Effect (2014) at AEF, A Generation Projected (2010) at ASU’s Cloyde Snook Gallery, and Blueprint (2007) at AEF. Abel’s notable group shows include Curvature of Events, curated by Meskerem Assegued at the New Master’s Gallery of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden in Germany (2014- 2015), which traveled to the National Museum of Ethiopia in 2015. Abel has presented artist lectures at Independent Curators International in NYC, Zoma Contemporary Art Center in Addis Ababa, the National Museum of Ethiopia, AEF, ASU, and Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, among others. In 2016 Abel was one of ten artists longlisted for the Financial Times OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices award for visual art. Intellectually fresh and moving, Abel’s work represents an unwavering voice of his generation.