Adamu Tesfaw

adamu, portrait 2.jpgI was born about 60 years ago in Bichena in Gojjam.[1] My father was a priest but he did not paint. He lived in Rome and Jerusalem for five years. I'd really like to visit those places but at this time I cannot afford it.

I received a church education. After completing Dequna I served the Church for twelve years, and after graduating from Qesinna I served the church for four years.[2] I have been a priest for 34 years but I no longer lead the life of a priest. I stopped doing that because I wanted to focus on being a painter-I have an interest and love for painting. I dream about it most of the time. I left Gojjam and came to Addis to strengthen my skills and promote my work. There is a better supply of raw materials, the demand for paintings is high, and you can also become well known here.

I learned from other painters. While I was attending Church school in Gojjam I observed Qes Gebez Anteneh as he painted, that is how I learned. Qes Gebez's painting teacher, Aleqa Kassa Getahun, was my uncle, so Qes Gebez felt obligated to teach me and he did. Then I came to Addis Ababa and learned more from my godfather, Ato Yohannes Tesemma, who was a painter and teacher at the Itege Training Center. He taught me how to be a better painter. Each of them recognized my interest and skill and encouraged me to paint. I really admire the work of Qes Gebez and Ato Yohannes, both of whom are now deceased.

I have one son and three daughters. They are interested in painting and assist in mixing paints and trimming the cloth. Even my daughters assist me and give me ideas for my work. One of the girls, Woyineshet, has produced a few paintings.

I work on several paintings at a time. It is difficult to finish a painting in one stroke! I guess it takes me about two or three days to make a painting. In the past, people painted from their imagination. Today, we look at different books to get ideas. I really admire ancient painters.

1. Gojjam is the name of a province in central Ethiopia.

2. Dequna is a reference to the studies needed to serve as deacon in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Qesinna is a reference to the studies required of a priest.


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