Biniam Afewerki, a fourth year Applied Biology student at EIT, and also a young devoted painter, engraver, poet and graphics designer. He staged various art exhibitions and became first runner up of “Adults Non-Professional Award” in 2010, hosted by the European Union. Excerpts of the interview follows.
I was born in Asmara in 1992. At the moment I am a fourth year Applied Biology student and I also fancy painting, poetry, graphic designing. I studied my Elementary and Junior education at Awet Elementary and Junior School. I continued my high school studies in Sema’tat Secondary School and afterwards I went to Sawa with the 23rd round for my national service and to complete my 12th grade at Warsay Yekaalo Secondary School.
About your artistic journey
Well, it was actually my father who noticed my passion for art. When I started painting and became more occupied in art, taking my interest into consideration, my father introduced me and my initial works with the famous Eritrean painter Mr. Micheal Adonai.
Back then, I was in fourth grade when Micheal Adonai gave me the first brochure that acted as a catalyst for my career. Proceeding on form, I took art lessons for two years then I continued at Mirara Art Association for five years being with the late Mussie Asgedom, Hailemicheal Oqbu, Laine Blata and the late Birhane Wedi Zagir.
Later on, I joined the Satreb Art Institute to have my diploma in Art, where I am currently working there as an instructor. In addition, during my second year college study, I took a summer course given by Afwerki Arefaine at Alliance Francaise about print making, etching and linocuts in 2011. From then on, I developed the love for a more advanced art called Engraving which is more than the basics of painting. Other than that, I managed to achieve an art diploma and a graphic designing certificate from Satreb Art Institute.
Actually, I don’t have a particular piece I call my masterpiece. I guess I am tacked with all of them, starting from my engravings to the paintings on canvas. I am emotionally linked and personally attached with all of them. To your surprise, I have destroyed many canvases after painting them because I felt dissatisfied with how I had started to emotionally engage with them. So, this really shows my passion to the work. So far I have finished some pieces of linocuts like “Felling Red”, “Tale Moments and Story”, “Message from My Dreams”, “Meeting my Soul”, also of Acrylic on canvas like, “ Tale Moments and Story #2”, “Rain from the Moons”, “Beneath the Deep”, “ Receiving a Whisper # 2”, “Faith Next to Me #2” , “Gone with a Kettle ”and many more.
In Eritrea there are only four engraving print makers. Being my personal mentors, Mr. Afwerki Arefaine, Biniam Tekle, Ermias Oqbe and Zekeria Omer, I can sincerely say they are my inspiration other than the international famous artists such as Gustavo klimt and Piet Mondrian. When it comes to print making it is an old way of publishing ancient manuscripts, in another perspective it is an artistic production. Back then, it was a means of duplication made only by qualified print makers, later on due to technological improvements of printing, print makers started to use new means of publishing manuscripts that was efficient.
To engrave and make a print out of it is not an easy task, it takes particular engraving equipment, specific paint and the print machine itself is hard to find. The ‘Lino’ I use to make engravings are not original ‘linoleum’ as supposed a bit difficult to get access to them but I use “floor tiles” instead.
I am a member of this group (ERISA) initiated by a South African Ambassador Iqbal Jahizbai. I participated at the art/fashion program conducted by the South African embassy here in Eritrea and with the South African designer Nadia Meer for the program“ from canvas to Cat Walk” in 2014, which brought the essence of a 2D from stage into life. It was advantageous for me because it brought me new dimensional perspective for my art and the way I perceive art in general.
I mainly write poetry in Tigrigna, the language I am good at, when it comes to writing in artistic view. For me, it is another way of expressing what is inside me and moreover expressing my self-similar to my paintings.
About your academic studies
Indeed my passion for art is inevitable yet my studies are priority. Although I had postponed my studies for three years previously, I always felt the need of an academic achievement along with my individual artistic triumphs. I can say that the awareness of an educational value always gets the best of me, art is what is inside of me and education is what I have to achieve. To this matter, I am trying to manage both but more focusing on my final year study.
Being a member of the national blood donors group…
Recently I was not that active in donating but I usually do every three month. When it comes to donation the beauty of giving blood donation is the fact that you don’t know who you are specifically donating it to, from that it is all about saving a life. For me it mostly is about sacrificing a part of you for the sake of others. I feel that it is the valuable thing you can provide people. Howe However I and my junior print making peers and many others are really pleased to be donors in such organizations and knowing we can save the life of many others like us makes us feel proud, and an astonishing moral satisfaction.
Any last words…..
There are a lot of people whom I would like to forward my appreciation and who actually deserve a privilege because I am a product of many people’s effort. However, I would like to thank Zekeria Omer who introduced and made me have interest to Moroccan music called “Ber Ber” and I like African music to some level as it keeps my mind fresh apart from work. Meanwhile, I would like to recommend people visit the art website www.Artspan.com since I take part on it with all my works available.
Thanks for your time