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AKKA Project to showcase contemporary African art at Quoz Art Fest 2023
African artists Workneh Bezu and Ashenafe Mestika
Image: Courtesy of AKKA project

AKKA Project to showcase contemporary African art at Quoz Art Fest 2023

The Italian gallery will present a group of influential Ethiopian artists at the 10th edition of the Art Fest in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai.

by AKKA Project
Published on : Dec 28, 2022

Art lives in every corner of the world. It just takes a keen eye to spot it, AKKA Project standing true to its gallery’s mission to rouse curiosity, creativity, and learning through contemporary African art, has announced its participation in the 10th edition of Quoz Arts Fest. The annual festival to be held in Dubai, UAE on January 28 and 29, 2023 will display the works of contemporary African artists such as Ashenafe Mestika, Natnael Ashebir, Micheal Hailu, Kidane Getaw, Leikun Nahusenay, and Workneh Bezu. Alserkal Avenue is the focal point of the Quoz Arts Fest, an annual celebration across the industrial area of Al Quoz, abandoned warehouses have been repurposed and designed into art galleries, now celebrated as an art and cultural district in Dubai to hold art exhibitions. “When I founded Alserkal initiatives, I wanted to make a meaningful contribution to arts and culture in the UAE and in the region - one that was befitting of the legacy that the Alserkal family had built so far,” says Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, founder of Alserkal Avenue. AKKA Project and Alserkal Avenue share a deep belief in the work they seek to illuminate, which reflects in their selection of contemporary artists that strive to make meaningful contributions through their work.

“I am exploring social interaction and socio-political happenstance. I like interpreting this experience into a visual form and using it as an initial point for my creative processes, the information I collect allows me to understand the past and present social and socio-political practice of the society,” shares Ashenafe Mestika, the first artist on the lineup. His interests lie in the social and sociopolitical issues that become his muse. His inclination towards connecting himself to his surroundings, observing how people interact with each other, and the life experiences that they have provided have become the foundation for his art.

Contrary to the common belief that an artist must find his muse in the outer world, the next artist on the lineup, Natneal Ashebir finds his inspiration through meditative explorations of the layers of life and inwardness. “I attempt to explore the various layers drawn close to our experience in the urban context apparent through forms of hegemony, social structure, culture, historical moments, and so on. The intricate relationship that these forms bear does manifest their ability to isolate us from some aspect of existence and at times to bring us together and liquidate us with various integral aspects of our very existence in the urban context,” says Ashebir whose works are reflective of the immersive experiences of the concepts of time and space.

Michael Hailu has chosen himself to be his muse, painting himself in female postures and figures. Through his explorative works that chart a political allegory, he examines the complex socio-political structures of the Ethiopian parliament. “How does one explore the duties and obligations of an Ethiopian parliament that is ethnically heterogeneous and ideologically homogeneous? How does one examine its success and its realizations? How does the parliament reflect our interest in a political culture that is ethnically polarized? How does one examine the complex political structure of an Ethiopian parliament? These are some of the questions that he attempts to critically analyse through his works. “The parliament that is homogeneous ideologically and its officials really represent a people who are heterogeneous ideologically,” he asserts. Hailu and his work are a manifestation of his confusion about social norms.

“My works are accurate depictions of the world. Forms are twisted without regard to law and are observed to be nicely composed with one another.” shares Kidane Getaw. In questioning the concept of gender, he examines how the notions of male and female came about. He draws inspiration from the unknown and unforeseen aspects of himself. His works are a profound commentary on the truth about life, in which forms are distorted yet presented in harmony, concealing the suffering of reality.

“Art is a fundamental necessity for me. Art is the modality that reflects a thought. My life is art, art is nature. Through art, my soul is expressed in this world; I don’t think I could survive without art. For me I need art like the air I breathe, my dreams are revealed through my art.” says Workneh Bezu. His deep connection with art resonates through his work that explores the emotional relationship between mothers and their children.

“I have this interest from a few years ago, of body versus soul. My latest work embodies the theme of no body and no faces, only the garb that adorns the body of a figure. The fabric and the clothes have value. In Ethiopia, Muslims and Christians share the culture of covering their heads in a holy place such as a mosque or a monastery, this symbolises the identity and culture here,” shares Leikun Nahusenay, the final artist on the lineup. His interest in the immutable relationship of a man with his soul versus the body is reflected in his latest work illustrating the presence and absence of the spirit in the human body and its connections with the spiritual.

In addition to soaking up the rich Ethiopian culture, Michael Hailu will mark his presence at the exhibition with an emotionally-charged experiential artwork. AKKA project collaborated with Hailu to cover the outer facade of the AKKA Project gallery in Dubai with his illustrious pursuits from January 20 to 30, 2023, while also engaging in interactive sessions with the artist.

AKKA Project’s contemporary art exhibition will remain on display on 28 and 29 January 2023, at the Quoz Art Fest happening in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, UAE

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