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BACKGROUND 2

It is often said that you can’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you’ve been. But what about where you are? Wouldn’t failing to address this question be overlooking the apparent, in this case the present, and maybe even taking it for granted?

This exhibition by Dawit Abebe is the fruit of the artist’s explorations on canvas in a subject matter, he has been meditating on for the past ___________. With more than 60 paintings he showcases at the exhibit, Dawit unveils testaments to his examination of his own self in the light of that theme.

His approach to this current theme began with an incision into himself: asking how he got to where he is presently. His inquiries in this realm precipitated in him a realization that more lay behind him than before his standpoint, and that appearances almost never present or represent what backstories have to reveal. This was kindled in him the inspiration for this collection.

But rather than offering his own discoveries or interpretations, Dawit chose to extend invitations to his audience to catch a glimpse beyond the hosted collection of paintings, or their all-encompassing single-worded theme – a theme that will only be identified by name at the end of this introductory statement so as to deliver his invitation unblemished, the experience intact, and to stay true to the essence of the subject matter.

Instead, a semi-labyrinthine intellectual exercise on the subject of Dawit’s chosen theme follows:

It might be forgotten, or maybe it is of an inescapable presence in a singular or collective memory. It might be highly personal in its essence, yet may be manifested in a regional, national, or even global form of equal, and at times, greater caliber.

It might be an accumulation of conditionings; or maybe a fusion of cognitions; an inventory of interactions, maybe; or maybe a combination of any of these; or it might not even have anything to do with them.

Maybe it symbolically represents imposed loads, or might conjure up images of a free rein. It might have come as a result of a series of choices – informed or otherwise. Or on the contrary, it may have resulted through decisions – again informed or otherwise – based on the illusion of choice, when in fact it emanated from nothing but a lack of options masquerading as a catalog of alternatives.

And more importantly, it is highly likely to be found masked by layers upon layers of shrouds – more often inviting than not. Either way, more stands to be revealed behind masks than their mere appearances. After all, a mask with nothing to shroud behind it is but a lone layer of futility.

This may develop, albeit crudely, an indefiniteness (in the grammatical sense of the word) in Dawit’s theme of choice for his latest installment – an impression amassing seemingly unrelated yet intertwined concepts until the whole mental and spiritual exertion snowballs into a giant too convoluted to cope up with, let alone comprehend. But not for Dawit.

What may have been an overwhelming vortex of posing questions faster than one could answer a single one fermented in Dawit’s imagination images that revolve around a particular theme that applies equally to every individual train of thought mentioned in the labyrinthine scenario above; and one that also satisfies the bigger picture and more of what their composite portrays.

“It’s a sort of whole that is more than the sum of its constituent elements,” Dawit says about the notion.

He attributes his theme’s significant to both abstract and tangible human diversity. Call it identity, culture, or language; or gauge with it power, status, or might; or identify it through the lack of any of these. It is this single common most of indefiniteness that hoists any and all of these sails that Dawit discovered in his explorations, and documented through his art for this exhibition.

But he doesn’t shy away from the flip side – its parallel and distinctly definite essence – that has enabled him to appreciate how it may be its highly subjective nature that highlights its indefiniteness. And no matter how sublime, that it is the backbone and the backdrop of the now, and that more is back there than right here; more is back then than right now; and no matter how optimistic the viewpoint, that more is back there and then than what has yet to come.

In this first part of a series of exhibits on the subjects of historical, individual, spiritual, or cultural BACKGROUNDS, Dawit presents past and current attempts at capturing through art such an illusive concept – a collection that will in turn serve as the BACKGROUND to his upcoming explorations in the subject. You are hereby invited to catch a glimpse of the highly contextual, yet all too human world of bygone times, spaces, thoughts and processes and pillars that will hold you upright in front of paintings. So take a step back right now in order to sprint forward into (and with) your BACKGROUNDS.
BACKGROUND
April, 2014

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