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One man’s rust, another man’s paint Tesfahun Kibru’s anticipated exhibition to open next week

Well known for his creation of sculptures using what many could consider trash, such as metal scraps and discarded plastic, Tesfahun Kibru is now set to bring art enthusiasts his new collection in an exhibition that is set to open on Friday, April 20, 2018.
Tesfahun will be featuring some new sculptures and painting at the exhibition, one he is holding after a long pause.
“All of the items that will be featured are new. I believe whenever I do an exhibition, I need to bring new works, I like challenging myself,” he told Capital. Rust plays a major role in creating his new paintings that are planned to be featured at the exhibition.
“I wanted to experiment with rust; use it as paint. I work with a lot of metal scrap and I wanted to use every bit of those scraps,” he says.


Growing up, Tesfahun says he found school difficult, even though he did manage to finish 12th grade and then join Addis Ababa University’s art school. “As kids of course we go to school, we all take the same path to education because we are in the same system. The system doesn’t really promote independent thinking or free expression; it doesn’t really enable individuals to explore the purpose of their existence.”
“To discover my interest in arts and explore my creative side, I had to take the long road. Sure there were drawing classes, arts and crafts classes and so on; those are more fun for children than the regular academic subjects. I found the regular subjects difficult and I didn’t like them, but taking those classes was mandatory, everyone had to go,” he says.
One primary reason he got into contemporary art, was because he spent a lot of time alone and that enabled him to interact with his own thoughts. He says he became interested in sculpting from watching his grandfather who was a carpenter. “I think I was influenced by that; watching him work with his hands,” he says.
Tesfahun is one of the 11 founding member of Netsa Arts Village, which was established in 2008 inside the Ferensay Park. The aim of the village was promoting contemporary art in Ethiopia and giving emerging artists a platform for exchange, discussion and debate on all issues related to art; to stimulate the quality, development and context of contemporary art practice in the country.
While Netsa Arts Village is no longer at Ferensay Park, part of its concept still exists in a space located in Sebeta, inside the Goma Kuteba factory; a space where Tesfahun and other artists work from.
“The idea with Netsa was to enable different artists to express themselves in a space that is free and without pre-set judgment of what art is,” Tesfahun says.
Speaking about  the process he goes through to create his work; especially the sculptures, Tesfahun says that usually he builds up on an idea slowly until it evolves into something expressive. “I don’t necessarily have a clear picture of what I am creating. I start something and I follow what the piece tells me, I look at the different pictures it gives me and I add on that until it makes sense to me,” he said.
Tesfahun acknowledges that there are many that don’t get his work but there is always an effort. “ It all comes down to what the standard of beauty and art is; there is always a protocol and that is what people are used to and by bringing my work for public viewing, that is what I want to challenge. To understand new or different things, people need to take their time,” he said.
Besides creating his contemporary artistic expression pieces, Tesfahun is also venturing into clothing and accessory designing. “It is something that I have wanted to do and I hope to focus more on now. I want to create a line; clothing and shoe line, that expresses who I am and hopefully that could be an outlet of expression of others too. I am working on it and I hope to put some products to the market soon,” he says.
Tesfahun Kibru’s upcoming exhibition will be one that will feature new ways of expressions. It will be held at Yucca House, located in Bole Rwanda. The art works will be displayed for three weeks starting April 20.


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