Noted Ethiopian artist Getahun Assefa Balcha demonstrates consummate versatility and accomplishment in a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture and mosaics and is nationally recognized not only for his public commissions, heroic sculptures and large scale mosaics in particular, but also for his easel paintings. As if that is not enough, Getahun is also a full time art instructor at Addis Ababa University, and can truly be considered a modern day Renaissance man.
Now for the first time, American collectors will have the opportunity to experience and appreciate Getahun's art in a series of paintings he calls “Azmari of Arada." For those unfamiliar, Arada is a nightclub district of Addis Ababa abounding with song, dance, culture and celebrations of life; a destination not unlike any such nexus of late night festivities and revelry in any major city anywhere in the world. Arada is particularly special, though, a place where free spirits roam and where Getahun's blithe muses, known locally as "Azmari"-- the flutists, harpists and poets one encounters during a night out in this colorful neighborhood-- brighten the lives of all who come into contact with them. Through the interpretive brilliance of this remarkable artist, you can almost hear their sweet sounding jazz as you lose yourself in the rich vivid colors and spontaneity of his paintings.
Though at times some might question whether the Western world is sensitized to African art, this matter is certainly not at issue here. "Azmari of Arada" is truly a universal representation of grace, beauty, culture and the finer things in life, and as such, transcends all nationalities and territorial borders. Without a doubt, everyone everywhere can appreciate the characteristics and qualities embodied in Getahun's art, regardless of where they may live, work or play. It is certainly of little surprise that collectors of contemporary African art have already acknowledged this artist's marvelous creative talents and abilities to materialize the true essence of art-- and now you can too. Yes, we all love and cherish our own concepts of Arada and look forward to those precious joyous moments that we spend there.
At only 43 years of age and with the majority of his career still ahead of him, Getahun’s considerable achievements have already positioned him among the most acclaimed of living East African Artists. The eternal permanence of his grand and glorious public monuments coupled with the vision and inspiration of his paintings has put him on a legendary path. Getahun Assefa Balcha’s story is one that is only beginning to unfold, and his contributions to African Art are certain to be appreciated for many generations to come.
By Alan Bamberger July 4th 2010; Art consultant, advisor, author, and independent appraiser specializing in research, appraisal, aspects of original works of art, artist manuscript materials, art-related documents, and art reference books.