Words: Future Tense
Wosene Worke Kosrof
May 17th – June 23rd, 2012
Skoto Gallery is pleased to present Word: Future Tense, an exhibition of recent paintings by the Ethiopian-born artist Wosene Worke Kosrof. This will be his fifth solo exhibition at the gallery. The artist will be present at the reception on Thursday, May 17th, 6-8pm.
Wosene's work continues to draw upon an individual reserve of personal and collective memories to activate a meaningful form of engagement that celebrates the richness of Ethiopia’s visual culture. For years, he has consistently explored strategies that combine the dynamic interplay between text and image with the abstract dimensions of the Amharic script, a modern language of Ethiopia and one of the oldest indigenous to Africa. He fuses a vocabulary of signs and symbols drawn from reconfigured Amharic script with a mastery of the nuances of color and composition as well as an open-ended improvisational sensibility to create work that comes alive to convey temporal and spatial dimensions of the written word. For Wosene, who has lived outside his homeland for over three decades, and the first Ethiopian-born artist to use Amharic script as a core compositional element in his work, language provides a tool to translate his own experiences – both personal and historical – into visual narratives filtered through cultural memories and contemporary realities.
Wosene’s work is dense with visual complexity that reflects an awareness of a vast array of both formal and inherited traditions. He relieves words of conventional meanings and, instead, explores their aesthetic, sensual, and visual content to speak boldly and clearly to a universal audience, and as stated by the artist: “Working in unconventional ways with language also affects my painting process. Since I don't pre-sketch paintings and rather have only a vague outline in my mind of what a composition will become, with each painting I have to step back from the habits of mind of how I know and see the language. I "dialogue" with the symbols as they emerge, working them up with colors and layering them with wet and dried acrylic paint. The canvas becomes an "enlivened space" with texture and depth, and the language symbols often surprise me with their unexpected transformations. My painting process is an intense interplay of intention and accident, curiosity and discover”.
Wosene Worke Kosrof was born 1950 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and received a BFA from The School of Fine Art, Addis Ababa and a MFA from Howard University, Washington DC in 1980. He is an artist of international reputation, widely exhibited in Africa, Europe, Japan, the United States. Collections include the National Museum, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; City of Addis Ababa Museum, Ethiopia; The National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, The Newark Museum, NJ; The Neuberger Museum at Purchase, NY; Birmingham Museum of Art, AL; Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN, the Fowler Museum, UCLA, Ca; Samuel P. Harn Museum, University of Florida, Gainesville, Fl; The Voelkerkunde Museum, Zurich, Switzerland, Fleming Museum, University of Vermont, VT; Rockefeller Collection, New York; World Bank, Washington DC; United Nations, New York as well as many private and corporate collections.