Kunsthall Oslo presents Robel Temesgen: Practising Water from March 3 to April 16, 2023.
Practising Water: Report #1 is a solo show by Robel Temesgen at Kunsthall Oslo. This is the first public manifestation of the artist’s long-term study project exploring the relationships between bodies of water and the human communities that have grown around them.
Temesgen has utilized painting and performance to chronicle the flow of the Blue Nile’s waters through the Ethiopian landscape and culture for this initial report. The project captures Temesgen’s literal immersion in his homeland’s intricate spiritual traditions, from baptisms held at Gish Abay (the source of the Lesser Nile) to the Blue Nile Falls, where the river can reach hundreds of meters across. In one version, the river runs directly from Christian Eden to Earth; in another, it is home to powerful Djinn who can possess human souls. A plethora of shifting tales accompany the river’s continual metamorphosis as it runs from the East African highlands to the Mediterranean, from a deep time before history to an unknown future.
Temesgen created his own ceremonial language in reaction to these enormous environmental and cultural forces, as well as his dual role as pilgrim and artist. He will provide documentation of five river performances, as well as textiles and items utilized in these improvised rituals, in the exhibition Practising Water. A series of brilliant and multi-layered paintings produced with ink on goatskin parchment round off the display.
Robel Temesgen (b. 1987, Ethiopia) is currently a PhD research fellow at the Oslo National Academy of Arts. He received his MFA in Contemporary Art from Tromsø Academy of Contemporary Art in 2015 and a BFA in Painting from ASFAD, Addis Ababa University in 2010. His practice focuses on painting and encompasses elements of performance, installation, video and collaborative working. Temesgen’s work has been widely exhibited in solo and group shows including at Lingen Konsthalle (2022), Tromso Kunstforening (2022), ARoS Museum, Aarhus (2021), Para Site, Hong Kong (2021), Kunsthall Oslo (2019), Circle Art Agency, Nairobi (2019), Addis Foto Fest, Addis Ababa (2018), Modern Art Museum, Addis Ababa (2018), Tiwani Contemporary Art Gallery, London (2018), and the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2017).