The Malta Independent 25 May 2024, Saturday
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'Obliterated childhood' – visual stories told by Ethiopian artist Dereje Shiferaw

Sunday, 19 June 2022, 08:49 Last update: about 3 years ago

Oblivious to what is happening in the world around us, most of us wouldn't be able to comprehend what it is like to live in a war-torn country. It is only when war gets close to home that calamity sinks in. The latest exhibition at Christine X Art Gallery is providing an insight on what it's like for children in war-torn countries. Ethiopian artist Dereje Shiferaw, who was born in Eritrea in 1978, has been witnessing what it's like for children who have been living an "obliterated childhood"; traumatised at such a young age.


Shiferaw is an upcoming artist in Ethiopia where he lives. He is a stay-at-home dad and wants to see a better future for Ethiopian children. He cannot understand why children, who are supposed to be kept safe and away from harm, are instead being faced with brutal scenes of war and the trauma of violence, and being used to obliterate peace. Not many dare to question politics. Most artists remain in their safe space refining and defining their work but Dereje does quite the opposite of what these formally taught artists do. The signature of this avante-garde artist lies in how he paints his figures: he accentuates the melanated figures with illustrious lips, stylized facial features and huge contorted hands. He gets his inspiration from everywhere but mostly from his infant son's sound and movement against the soundscape of jazz music softly playing in his studio. He becomes physically and emotionally invested in the subject's story where his aim is to capture the spirit, essence and heritage of his subject while also using this as an opportunity for the world to look into the lives and struggles of people whose stories are yet to be told.

If you want to get a deep insight into the lives of the people Dereje depicts in the exhibition Obliterated Childhood, head over to Christine X Art Gallery in Tigne Street c/w Hughes Hallet Street in Sliema.

The exhibition opens daily except Sundays until 8 July from 10am to 1pm and from 4 to 7pm.


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