Painter Hana Yilma Godine uses Ethiopian textiles to construct fantastical compositions of resting women

Hana Yilma Godine paints women in their moments of intimacy: resting on the couch, at the hair salon, preparing for a wedding. The artist, who received his MFA from Boston University in 2020, studied with renowned Ethiopian artist Tadesse Mesfin in his hometown of Addis Ababa. The flattened perspective and elongated figures of her compositions recall classic Ethiopian iconography, while her materials – she paints on fabrics that women buy in local markets and make into dresses – come from everyday life.

Goodine’s second solo exhibition in the United States, “A Barber Shop in Addis Ababa,” on view through March 5, spans two New York venues: the Fridman Gallery and the Rachel Uffner Gallery. As her home country faces civil war, Goodine imagines a parallel dimension where women are safe and free to express themselves.

We caught up with the Addis Ababa-based artist ahead of a three-month residency at Fridman in Beacon, New York, about studio life.

What are the most essential items in your studio and why?

Paint and brush. I use acrylic and oil, depending on the surface, as I paint on both canvas and fabric. The rest can be replaced.

Can you send a photo of your work in progress?

I have just opened a solo exhibition in two galleries at the Fridman Gallery and the Rachel Uffner Gallery, and all my work has been completed for these exhibitions. But here is a work when it was in progress:

A work in progress in the studio. Courtesy of Hana Yilma Godine.

What is the studio task on your agenda tomorrow that you are most looking forward to?

I can plan all sorts of things and will probably end up doing something else. Tomorrow I have to start thinking about the next work, new structures, new experiments with materials and techniques. For my upcoming residency with Fridman Gallery in Beacon, I brought with me traditional Ethiopian fabrics that are typically used to make women’s dresses. I can’t wait to pin them on a wall in my new studio and think about what they will become.

Fabrics that will be incorporated into the work.  Courtesy of Hana Yilma Godine.

Fabrics that will be incorporated into the work. Courtesy of Hana Yilma Godine.

What atmosphere do you prefer when you work? Do you listen to music or podcasts, or do you prefer silence? Why?

Usually I prefer to listen to music, but my practice in the studio also has moments of silence. Sometimes I listen to lectures. Sometimes I take breaks and listen to the news. Music helps me focus on directing. On my playlist you can find the “Ethiopians » series of albums by Ethio-Jazz musicians such as Mulatu Astatke, music from Mali and other African countries, as well as Western music.

What trait do you most admire in a work of art? What trait do you despise the most?

I like the materiality and the techniques of painting. I can’t think of anything I despise in art. I enjoy almost every painting I see.

What snack could your studio not run from?

I don’t usually eat when I work, but I like to drink coffee or tea.

Who are your favorite artists, curators or other thinkers to follow on social media right now?

I’m not really active on social media, but I also admire Julie Mehretu, Tschabalala Self and Jennifer Packer. like Paul Cézanne, Nicolae Grigorescu and Tadesse Mesfin (Ethiopian painter who was one of my teachers).

A glimpse into the artist's studio, where works of art cover every surface.  Courtesy of Hana Yilma Godine.

A glimpse into the artist’s studio, where works of art cover every surface. Courtesy of Hana Yilma Godine.

When you feel stuck in the studio, what do you do to unblock yourself?

I rarely get stuck when working in my studio. When I do, I try to carry on listening to music, working on a new painting, doing different kinds of tasks, like stretching a canvas or fabric.

What is the last exhibition you saw that made an impression on you?

by Adam Pendleton”Who is the queen? » at MoMA in New York.

If you had to create a mood board, what would it be right now?

I would use images that I have collected on my travels or walks, resources that I have found on the Internet, photos that I have taken.

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