Credit: Liberty Installation by Adiskidan Ambaye at Addis Fine Art Gallery, 2020.
HOW TO START COLLECTING ART WITH RAKEB SILE OF ADDIS FINE ART
Wondering how to start collecting art? Rakeb Sile, gallery owner and Apollo International Art Magazine’s 40 Under 40 in Africa, discusses showcasing Ethiopian art and shares expert knowledge on how to start collecting art for the modern home.
Credit: Rakeb Sile in her Addis Ababa gallery. Photo by Bandele Zubari
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU AND MESAI TO OPEN ADDIS FINE ART?
Rakeb Sile: It started as an idea in 2012/13 between our co-founder Mesai Haileleul and I. At that time there was a distinct lack of Ethiopian art spaces, especially ones which actively engage with the wider international contemporary art world. After three years of art consulting, we decided to open a gallery emerging from a local space in the heart of Ethiopia's capital.
We had a vision to bring forth a programme that shows the strength and diversity of modern and contemporary art from Ethiopia and its Diaspora. I am very proud to say that since we opened our doors in 2016, we have become an important voice, engaged at both the local and international art market, even listed as one of 27 “Most Important Young Galleries in the World” (Artsy 2019)
HOW DID YOU START TO COLLECT ART FOR GALLERY SHOWS?
Rakeb: Our first show was by seven Addis based artists titled Addis Calling, where we celebrated the diversity of artistic practice here in Ethiopia. The exhibition was a vibrant mix of painting, photography and mixed media which reflected the country's dynamic art scene. Since then, we have held exhibitions every two months in Addis Ababa. Two notable shows from the 2020 season were No Country for Young Men by Tesfaye Urgessa and Liberty by Adiskidan Ambaye. In our project space in London, we curated shows such as: Erase Me by Tariku Shiferaw, Beneath the Surface by Merikokeb Berhanu and The Fall: A Woman’s Descent into the Unconscious by Daniela Yohannes. The opening of our new permanent London space in Cromwell Place will open with an exhibition by a very pivotal artist and educator in Ethiopian contemporary art, Tadesse Mesfin.
As the pandemic created a challenge to physical shows, the art world has made the pivot to online programming, and so have we. My favorite online shows we have curated so far have been Thinking Africa, Painting Europa by Ermias Kifleyeesus whose work deals with migration, displacement, decolonization of historical narratives and cultural restitution. We also presented a solo booth of incredible works by abstract painter, Tariku Shiferaw at Frieze New York online fair and stunning mirrored sculptures by Tsedaye Mekonnen at Untitled, Art Online
"Art is incredibly subjective and emotive, so I think that a personal bond with a particular artwork is important."
Installation view of Tadesse Mesfin, Pillars of Life, Series, 2020.
TIPS FOR BUILDING AN ART COLLECTION FOR THE MODERN HOME?
Rakeb: I started my life in art as an art collector, and I was always led by my heart. So, I would say it is essential that the work resonates with you first. Art is incredibly subjective and emotive, so I think that a personal bond with a particular artwork is important. If a piece of art does move you, then the next step is to do a bit of research on the artist’s career, previous shows, and any galleries they may work with. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the galleries or the artist for more information, images and guidance.
TIPS ON HOW TO HANG ART IN THE HOME?
Rakeb: Collecting art is personal to the individual and choosing where to hang a piece of art can be tricky, but once you find the ideal spot, it will really bring it to life! I suggest you search for somewhere or something which complements the artwork, this could be a particular wall, furniture, or another piece of art. You may need to put on your curator hat for this, and really take the time to search for the right place to create the synergy between your space and an artwork. Be sure to hire a professional installer if you are not handy with a tool kit to help hang your art collection.
Liberty Installation by Adiskidan Ambaye at Addis Fine Art Gallery, 2020.