His name is Michael Knfe Ghebremedhin. He was born in Addis Ababa in 1988. While he was studying his 6th grade lessons there in Addis Ababa, he expelled like all Eritreans who were ousted by the TPLF regime. Michael started his fifth grade lessons in Asmara, Fnote Tibeb Elementary school and his high school lessons in Lmeat Secondary School. In 2008 he went to Sawa to complete his 12th Grade studies. Michael is now a fourth year student at Eritrean Institute of Technology. Haddas Eritrea Newspaper has conducted an interview with him, and the excerpts follow.
When did you start painting?
I learned to know my talent while I was a grade 5 student, at Fnote Tibeb. I was really fond of it. This is all thanks to Teacher Yohannes, for he was creating a suitable atmosphere for us to paint; he was trying his very best to upgrade our creative and innovative skills.
Could you tell us about your first portrait?
While I was a grade 5 student, I repainted one of the pictures which were given to us by Mr. Yohannes, using water color. The portrait displayed a picture of a Monkey while playing jazz.
What was its message?
I simply paint it without any intention. It was just my great desire for painting. I simply paint a picture that strikes my eyes.
Have you got painting courses?
Though we were learning at school by the help of some teachers, I officially took a one year course provided by the NUEYS (National Union of the Eritrean Youths and Students), thanks to teacher Asmerom. And I took another course, a ten month course with Segen Eritean Artist Group, including the proficient artists like Michael Adonai.
There are so many people who are naturally great painters; so what do you think could be the key to the development of painting, learned of innate?
I believe that painting has to do something with innate talent, but you certainly could achieve more with proper training. No matter how long it takes you will get better and better, as long as you’re willing to do the work. You just have to have the courage to try drawing something you’ve never drawn before.
What sort of color do you like to use while painting?
I like lilac.
Could you tell us something about the stages you participated?
I stopped academic school for a year when I was in grade 9 due to health problems. However, as any artist would do, I wanted to show my work to those around me and I started over and displayed a portrait in the Eri youth Festival in Sawa, in 2006.
What happened later?
Afterwards, I worked as a teacher at the NUEYS branch office of the Central Region. That time education and me were like in the two poles of the world; nevertheless, I started to think about matriculation examination that I stood first from my class and I stopped the ongoing work at Junior Club. However, the school brought me materials and I started to teach the students there in group.
Though I used to sell my private works, I was participating and winning at different school contests. For instance, I participated in the competitions organized by the Red Cross and in the competition among different Secondary Schools, but I never was out of line of success. I also got a reward of the best artist of school in particular and Art in general, while I was in Lmeat Secondary School.
Have you ever practiced sculpture?
I didn’t practice that much, but I staged one at the Eri youth Festival in Sawa, in 2012 depicting the youths tremendous endeavors for development of the homeland.
Which one do you think is harder to portrait paint from visualizing and from practically displaying?
Actually, the practical work is harder, for you always do what your mindset is demanding.
Let’s come back to your educational situation, what are you studying?
I am studying Computer Science.
What is painting for you?
Painting is about feeling and impression. Art is alive inside me.
What was the role of your parents towards your profession?
Well, I would like to express my gratitude to my parents. They really are motivational.
Could you tell us about the most irritating or amusing incident at your work experience?
It was at the NUEYS, one day I was writing on one theme and when I finished writing, all the ink that I brought to paint the written theme spilled on the portray and spoiled it completely, that was really irritating.
Did you continue your drawing in Sawa?
I had never planned of drawing in Sawa, for I had to study hard for my matriculation exam. But the love of art couldn’t let me go. I was simply drawing while my roommates were chatting, while they were having tea, while they were studying, among others.
Can anyone be a painter?
Anyone can paint, but you must take some actions, you must put yourself out and you must do your level best so as your work would be worth having.
When do you like to paint?
I love drawing at night or at dawn.
To whom do you paint?
Well, I used to draw for myself, but now I am displaying my painting for the public, because I would love to show people my portraits, as a growing artist.
Whom would you give if you were asked to give a reward?
I would give it to all my funs, even though they are many in number.
Anything you want to say?
Art is about creativity and inventiveness. It is a mirror where you reflect and express your talent, your appreciation, your undertaking, your happiness and sadness; it is what you never have to hold back no matter what.