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Sullivan Goss has three exciting pieces of news. First, Sullivan Goss is excited to announce their representation of WOSENE WORKE KOSROF. Second, the Gallery is excited to announce the publication of a new art book devoted to the artist with four scholarly essays and images that span the full arc of the artist’s forty-plus year career. Third and finally, the Gallery is excited to announce its second solo exhibition for the artist, Beyond Words, in August and September. 

Wosene was born in Ethiopia in 1950 and trained at the School of Fine Arts (SFA), Arat Kilo/Addis Ababa, where he went on to become one of his country’s modern art leaders. In 1978, he immigrated to the US where he pursued a Masters of Fine Arts degree at Howard University in Washington D.C. He was mentored there by Jeff Donaldson, a major African American artist, who advised him to use his proficiency and fascination with Amharic script to develop his own abstract language. Ethiopian history got in there; so did early New York graffiti. But a lot of European and American abstract painting ideas were assimilated too, as were the syncopation and improvisation of American jazz music. In 1991, he relocated to California, settling in Berkeley in 1995 where he has remained ever since. In 1999, the Indianapolis Museum became the first U.S. museum to acquire the artist’s work, but many have since joined them. This year, the Crocker Museum of Art acquired A Taste for Words X, 2021.

The gallery’s new exhibition Beyond Words shares a title with the artist’s newest series begun in 2021. Sixteen canvases will be presented; each layered with forms from the Biblically-aged Amharic alphabet, shapes abstracted from real life experiences, and little passages in between where the artist riffs on the surrounding structure. Wosene works intuitively on unstretched canvas with fast-drying acrylics so that he can remain in the moment and in dialogue with the paintings he makes. 

The new monograph is in production, but pre-production copies will be available to peruse in the gallery. The major essays are by Richard B. Woodward, the founding curator of the African Arts Department at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, who has previously published on the artist and who led the museum’s acquisition of two works starting in 2016; Charles Donelan, former Arts Editor of the Santa Barbara Independent and now Senior Writer/Publicist at U.C.S.B.’s Arts & Lectures program; Nathan Vonk, owner of Sullivan Goss; and WOSENE WORKE KOSROF, the artist himself. A foreword was added by John Strawn, formerly of Sullivan Goss, and now owner of the Loft Galeria in Puerto Vallarta. An authoritative chronology and bibliography, 66 color plates, and numerous other color illustrations round out the 146 page book.


Born in 1950 in the Arat Kilo district of Addis Ababa, Wosene formally trained at the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts, and completed a BFA with distinction in 1972. In the aftermath of a 1974 military coup, Wosene was compelled to leave Ethiopia, eventually enrolling as a Ford Foundation Talent Scholar at Howard University for graduate work in studio painting in 1978. In 1991, he moved from the east coast to California and has been based in Berkeley for many years. Wosene’s work has been exhibited internationally at institutions including the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC; the National Museum of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; the Crocker Museum, Sacramento; and the Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles. His work is held in the collections of many important museums. The Crocker Museum of Art in Sacramento was the most recent institution to acquire his work.

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