Trophies, big pretenders, and a drunken donkey

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“Trophies, Big Pretenders, and A Drunken Donkey” was an exhibition by Klaus Mertens, last Sunday, at Asni Gallery. Mertens is a German artist who has been living in Addis Ababa since 2007, and who teaches at the School of Fine Arts and Design at Addis Ababa University.

Early in his career, he had achieved great success with his large collection of woodcut prints, inspired by the human body. Named “Woodcut Tattoos,” they featured patterns and ornaments with a strong occult feel. He also produced a series of graphics which combine elements of pop art and traditional wooden engraving with poetic, sensitive images, such as portraits and landscapes. Inspired by the African spirit, his work consequently evolved to include the mediums of sculpture, photography and performing arts, transforming his previously two dimensional works with ornament and pattern into three dimensional arts.
“Africa’s impressions inspired me to work with materials like plastic bags, branches or animal skulls and bones.”
“Living in Africa evokes the memory of the literature I read in my youth. The works of Ernest Hemmingway and Karl May, with their colonial outlook and attitude, shaped an image of Africa that is everlasting. This evoked an image of trophy hunting and waste of nature dominating knowledge which played a prominent role in shaping me and my work.”
His current work, on display at Asni, tickles the mind and I encourage everyone to go check it out. The exhibition will last until November 25, 2012; it will be open to visitors from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 7pm.