Boghossian, the best of ethiopian contemporany painting

title_08Alexander”Skunder”Boghossian (July 22, 1937 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – May 4, 2003 in Washington D.C.) is the best know African artist.

Boghossian was born on July 22, 1937 in Addis Ababa, at the time the capital of the Italian colony Italian East Africa, one and half years after the Second Italo-Abyssinian War

He attended a traditional Kes Timhert Betoch kindergarten where he was taught the Ge’ez script. In primary and secondary school, he was taught by both Ethiopian and foreign tutors and become fluent in Amharic, English, Armenian and French. His formal training at the School of Paris influenced his skill but never touched his heart or imagination. Although he spent most of his adult life in America an only three years of that time in Ethiopia, he is the most Ethiopian of Ethiopian painters.

As a practicing artist, Boghossian’s paintings have been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Ethiopia, the Caribbean, Europe, North and South America. He is also distinguished by being “the first Africa to…” He was, for example, the first contemporary African artist to have work purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and he was the first African commissioned by the World Federation of the United Nations Association to design a First Day Cover for a United Nations stamp. His pen and ink drawing for the cover and the accompanying stamp were on the theme of “Combat Racism.” The date of issue was September 19, 1977.

He returned to Ethiopia in 1966 and stayed until 1969 when he was invited to become artist in residence at Atlanta University, as well as resident instructor in sculpting, painting and African design at the Atlanta Center for Black Art. But even during his short three years back in Ethiopia, Boghossian was one of a handful of artists who influenced an entire generation of painters with his energetic abstractions of tradition and use of vivid color. Many art critics and collectors point to Boghossian’s work in particular at that time as establishing the standard for modern art in Ethiopia.

Spring scrolls 1983-1984 Alexander “Skunder” Boghossian

Spring scrolls 1983-1984 Alexander “Skunder” Boghossian

The end of the beginning 1972-1973 Alexander “Skunder” Boghossian

The end of the beginning 1972-1973 Alexander “Skunder” Boghossian

In the National Museum of Ethiopia (Addis Ababa) you can find some of his works.

For more information about Boghossian: Elizabeth W. Giorgis, Skunder Boghossian: Artist of the Universal and the Specific”  All Africa,Ethiopia: Pioneer Artist Skunder Boghossian Dies in Washington, DCBlen Magazine, “Skunderism”

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