“Many people who see my work immediately try to make a connection with my roots, my Ethiopian origins. That sometimes bothers me. The last time I was in Amsterdam I went to the Rijksmuseum. There I studied Rembrandt, Van Eyck and other old masters; they are much more my frame of reference.”
Specially for UNSETTLED, Mulugeta Tafesse (b. 1960, Ethiopia) has created a new series of captivating paintings, called “The medicine man”, in homage to his mother, who passed away at the age of 91 in 2014. Investigating his personal history, the artist revisited treasured memories and transposed these moments onto canvas. Painting an intimate subject, these portraits pay tribute to the single mother who worked hard to support Tafesse in his dreams and ambitions to become an artist. Inspired by Milan Kundera’s novel Immortality, he continues to communicate with his mother with every brushstroke. By means of her portraits she stays in close connection with her son. Painting her portrait for the first time since she died was an intense experience. Every work forms part of a process of mourning, missing, and healing.