Nahom Teklehaimanot is a painter. Sketching on a piece of paper got him acknowledged as someone with a gift for art, and for that, he was constantly called by his teachers to the blackboard to draw. His love and thirst for art grew bigger through time and he decided to enhance his gift with professional training and deepened his knowledge of art.
Persistently doing studies and research in finding his true passion, Nahom started off with pop art which led his way to study the impressionist style. Changing styles to help him fully understand painting and its techniques, Nahom didn’t stop there and he changed his style to try study the contemporary art which he believes has more freedom.
Today, Q&A shares a short chat with Artist Nahom during my visit to the Art Gallery where he is displaying his solo contemporary art exhibition.
- Thank you for making the time, what can you tell us about your EPI #1 exhibition you have here and the other exhibitions you had so far?
My first exhibition was in 2014 with a group of artists, our first step. Following that show, I was then part of another group exhibition, but this time it was a sketch display. However, I didn’t engage on presenting a show for almost two years, because I was in the middle of studying and researching some new techniques. When I finally believed that I was making progress and correcting my flaws, I then again presented a solo show in 2017, naming it the first amendment. Moving forward, I had several shows in collaboration with my artist colleagues Biniam Afwerki and Biniam Tikue. Now, I titled this show EPI#1 since the works are the continuation of my studies. Over the years, I have presented more than ten exhibitions, solo and with group.
- Would you please care to share with us what challenges Eritrean artists encounter to display art exhibitions?
Well, there is always the financial issue artists find restricting in order to have an art show. If interested sponsors, be it institutions or individuals, care to understand the importance and extend assistance in funding art shows, it would be a great motivation for the artists to produce more works. Regardless of the challenges, it is important for an artist to showcase their work to the public. In addition, another obstacle is not having enough places to showcase an exhibition. I believe that creating a platform to motivate the artists is what would enable us to be competent internationally as Eritrean artists. Because of all the things I just mentioned, there isn’t much of exhibition being hosted throughout the year.
- Nahom, what is the type of art you follow, and what is the purpose of your artistry?
Well, I personally think that art isn’t part of culture and culture isn’t part of art. One of the main reasons I don’t want my art to be limited and characterize a specific society, religion or a continent. I want my paintings to represent everything and everyone simply as an art. Case in point, my current exhibition displays of faces which we don’t see every day in our area. They are all dark-skinned portraits from the African tribe. Of course, it doesn’t represent what the Eritrean people’s lifestyle but the painting goes beyond representing my community only, it represents the other African tribes. During the ancient Greek, art was culture. Later, art became a religion. And today, art has become philosophy. An artist is someone who creates things the way one sees and feels things, and that is what I feel about and it is what I want to share with the world.
To talk about the art techniques I use, I started to study pop art in the beginning. It is a type of art that has emerged in the early 1960s. It is a type of art which is vibrant and I think it is mostly the reason I was drawn into. While carrying on my studies, I felt like I needed to do a little more work regarding the figures I was working on and decided to shift to becoming impressionist. One has to acknowledge one’s weakness and should take measure to correct them, moving forward without correcting them only leads to failure. For that reason, I wanted to give a full consideration to my drawing skills and studied the ways of many impressionist artists. After all these studies, one of the things I learned was that, you are the one who makes Art what it is. Better yet, I looked around to contemporary art, where many of the techniques are related to this specific type, it is vibrant and is less restrictive. The only thing that matters is the concept of what you are trying to show. And I consider myself a contemporary artist and I am planning to do more contemporary work in the future.
- -Your time in Segen Artisits Group, did that experience have an impact in your life as an artist?
I took eight months of art courses at the Segen Artist Group. I can honestly say that it wasn’t only the courses that I, as an artist, benefited. Meeting the experienced artists who taught us and shared their experiences was something we took as art students. Another thing I learned at the art school was, if you do exactly what you were taught that it is a step forward in your success. Sometimes, when you are young, you need others to see you through and guide you to the right path. But not only that, one’s success depends on the way they handle and act on things, receiving education isn’t just enough.
- Who are your Favorite artists, internationally and locally?
Mark Duchamp, Roy Lichinstein, Robert Raschemburg, these are all pop artist and my role models. And my favorite Eritrean artist is Noah Mulubrhan. I admire everything about him, the way he thinks and does everything.
- Anything at last
Thank you for having me today. I also want to thank everyone, starting from my family, especially my mom and friends for all their support. I also want to remind the media, that it is your responsibility to promote the art industry of the country. I hope that the Ministry would cover local artistry programs which will help motivate many young artists to be influenced.