Aksum and Lalibela
ArtistDaniel Berhanemeskel (Ethiopian, b. 1980)
MediumOil on canvas
DimensionsWork : 48 x 32 in. (1.2 m x 81.28 cm)
Frame : 49 1/4 x 33 1/4 in. (1.3 m x 84.46 cm)
Credit LineHope College Collection
Daniel Berhanemeskel first learned art from his father, a well-known Ethiopian Orthodox icon painter. He came to the United States in 1999 to attend Hope College and later went on to earn an MFA from Michigan State University. He now lives and works in Washington, DC, but still maintains close connections to his family and his artistic roots in Ethiopia. This early painting by Berhanemeskel reveals his exploration of the Surrealist style. The title and the imagery refer to Ethiopia’s two holiest cities, Aksum (also spelled Axum) and Lalibela. Aksum is famous for its large standing stelae and is also said to have been home to the Queen of Sheba, both of which are referenced by the stylized female torso in the foreground. Lalibela is famed for its numerous churches and monasteries that are cut into the rocky cliffs around the town, as suggested by the background in this painting.