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Wosene Kosrof Bio

Building with Words V, 2017

28 x 28 inches  |  acrylic on canvas

Born in 1950 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Wosene Worke Kosrof is a contemporary artist who has achieved international acclaim. Formally trained at the Addis Ababa School of Fine Art, he completed a BFA with distinction in 1972. Then, as a Ford Foundation Talent Scholar, he was awarded an MFA in 1980 from Howard University in Washington, DC.

Over the past four decades, Wosene has created an internationally recognized artistic signature though the expressive use of his native Amharic script as a core motif in his paintings and sculptures. This recognizable ‘signature’ emerges from the way he elongates, distorts, dissects and reassembles Amharic calligraphy – not as literal words – but as images that speak for themselves in a visual language accessible to international audiences. Jazz improvisations underlie his compositions, animating them with rhythmic movements and emboldening his masterful use of color.

The very nature of Wosene’s work – his visual vocabulary, his ‘mapping’ of cultures across time and place, his sensual use of form and color – testifies to the visual power and versatility of language. “I create a visible, interactive surface – like visual icons that are accessible to everyone. My paintings invite viewers to dialogue with them, to take them into their memory.” A major aspect of Wosene’s works is that they present us with a challenge to look into the art, feel its effect, and to watch what happens. He paints from a place between mastery and uncertainty – and so the viewer too can approach his work to discover meanings that emerge through interaction.

Wosene has produced five major series of paintings in which he defined an ‘aesthetics of script’: Graffiti Magic (1980-1987); Africa: The New Alphabet (1988-1994); Color of Words (1995-2003); Words: From Spoken to Seen (2004-2008); and, in my current series WordPlay (2009-present).

Wosene lives and has his studio in Berkeley, California.

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EDUCATION

School of Fine Art, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
MFA Howard University, Washington, D.C. 

 

COLLECTIONS

National Museum of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa
Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC
The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
Mott Warsh Collection, Flint, MI
Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL
Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh-Durham, NC
Samuel P. Harn Museum, University of FL, Gainesville
Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana
Fleming Museum, Burlington, VT
Völkerkunde Museum, Zürich, Switzerland
Peter Gray Museum, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
United Nations, New York, NY
Rockefeller Collection, New York, NY

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Interview with Sotheby's
African Art in London 
The Pleasures and Dangers of Learning to See by Wosene Kosrof

 

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY
Keith Haring Museum of Japan, Kobuchizawa, Japan
National Museum of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fleming Museum, Burlington, VT
Folkens Museum Etnografiska, Stockholm, Sweden
Paul Mahder Gallery, Healdsburg, VA
Skoto Gallery, New York, NY
Gallery of African Art, London, UK
Hoshigaoka Gallery, Kochi, Japan
St. George Gallery, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Loft Galeria, Puerto Vallarta, MX
Parish Gallery, Washington, DC

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