Artist Ghirmai Kifle was born in Asmara, Geza Kenisha area in 1972. Until he completed his Secondary School education, he studied in schools like Bizen, Adulis, and Isacc Tewoldemedhin. Artist Ghirmai is a first round member of the National service. He displayed paintings in the art exhibition show which was conducted in the Alliance France last week. Haddas Eritrea Newspaper has conducted a brief interview with him. Below is an excerpt of the interview.
When did you start painting?
I started painting when I was a child; when I was a grade two student.
How did you start it?
I can’t tell how and why I started it; it was by accident. But it could probably be developed from the class works that we were given to us to be painted. At times the students used to ask me to paint for them. Imagine that I was a little and almost all the students used to ask me to paint for them, and I was so proud. It feels like owning the world. At last I started to take it seriously.
What do you mean?
I think I was idle at writing and I started telling them that I would paint for them if and only if they helped me in writing.
How did your drive towards Art progress?
In a painting competition which was conducted while I was studying grade 11, I stood second.
What was the main focus of the competition?
Its main message was Peace, and I staged painting of a globe which portrays a Bird and a broken weapon. And my reward was Biology book and Painting book. However, I stopped painting.
My parents took me to Desta Photo Studio and I started working as a photo editor. I was also good in taking photos. I participated in taking photos of Referendum as a camera man. After the completion of this task I was assigned in Awget import and export. Afterwards I went to Sawa, and then to Mekele, Tigray, because there was a big Publishing Machine there and that Desta, my former boss, was there in Mekele. And then I joined the National Defense Force while I was working in Zula Photo Studio.
What did you do with the Painting?
Painting and I met in 1999 while I was in the armed forces in Barentu there was a competition and I displayed a painting with the title “Temati Abziha Eza Adi”, which means all eyes on this country, Eritrea. I win over and I got a tape recorder as a reward.
What were the paintings that you could always remember when you became a proficient painter?
In the year 2006/2007 I staged a painting of a camel with its calf, and I got a second rank. There is also one painting that I didn’t forget which was painted in a place called Kuna in 2003, when I went there for a meeting. It portrays about one child carrying her brother at her back. I was impressed by the painting. I was wondering at how that little child could carry her brother, and I repainted it by the name “Mebre”, which means substitute. I also paint the pictures I took by a camera and then publish it in Printing Press.
Could you tell us about your recent exhibition?
It was really great, and the feedback of the participants was motivational.
What is exhibition for you?
Exhibition is something official that you display different works of art. It creates a suitable atmosphere for you to demonstrate your art works and to meet up with so many people. It is an event that allocates you from one stage to another.
Could you offer us something about the painting types?
There are many types of painting. Realism is life like artistic representation of something. It is the accurate and apparently objective description of the ordinary world. Cubism is an artistic portrayal which uses geometrical style of drawing, and is a favorite of Pablo Picasso. Its main emphasis is to present the mind’s perception of an object rather than the actual appearance. Byzantine art developed out of the art of the Roman Empire, which was itself profoundly influenced by ancient Greek art. And I think Byzantine art is developed with the coming of Christianity, for certain artistic traditions that originated in the Byzantine Empire, particularly in regard to painting and Church architecture, are maintained in so many Orthodox countries to the present day.
Why do you think is the reason why a lot of people get some difficulties to understand abstract painting?
I even have the same thought. But I think it is made only for those who know something about it and for those who studied about it. Anyone can be an abstract painter; it is kind of simple which requests no worries. For example, portrait of a person while walking, a woman while cooking food, or baking bread among others.
Who is an artist in your attitude?
Artist is someone who is innovative and creative, and who do not always takes other’s ideas.
In what condition do you paint, I mean do you go somewhere in the countryside? And do you make some studies?
I always do. As you can see, these paintings are displayed through the study I made in the ethnic groups. I appreciate antiques; arts of ancient times. So I always visit areas which I say could be helpful for me to paint.
What is your future plan?
Well, I am going to travel with the art painting.