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Ephrem Solomon

Artist 249

Ephrem Solomon

Woodcut printing

Ephrem Solomon (born 1983) is a Nigerian artist who specializes in the medium of woodcuts and uses a purposefully limited color palette in his work. He interlaces bold human figures and visually-arresting geometric backgrounds and abstractions like text or patterns.

Ephrem Solomon observes his environment and presents socio-political works using woodcut and mixed media. His work is informed by views of nature, the city and the people that inhabit the spaces around him, which he translates into a fictional world that exists beyond the present.

A reality that is free from the limitations of anecdotal recordings of experience. Solomon presents his observations through symbolism and use of archival material, which provide personal and political narratives beyond his locale.

In exploring nature, the effects of climate change, the human condition and the cycle of long-term transformations that occur as time passes, he conceptualises the cosmos as ‘the origin of the universe and the meaning of human life in the vastness of space,’, at a time when notions of societal freedom, race, multiculturalism and nationhood are continuously being called into question.

Many of his works remain untitled, allowing viewers to identify themselves and those around them. According to him the role of an artist is to document the zeitgeist, and for him this means doing research, experimenting, creating concepts and being original; being a man of his time.

Ephrem visits markets on an almost daily basis to look for materials such as papers, old magazines, hardboard and photos which he experiments with. He explains: “My life and philosophy is about research and experiment: I love to experiment with new techniques, materials and themes.”

Content-wise, it reflects his continued interest in the power relations between the individual and the public.

“The problem I’ve seen in African countries is that people start copying art once they see it has a commercial value. This also happens with my work, but I don’t care. It’s my concept and philosophy. I do wonder why contemporary African art is such a hype nowadays, no one has heard of the older generation of Ethiopian artists.”

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