Employing various printmaking techniques, different materials, charcoal drawing, among others, allows him to experiment with different layers in his works on paper and canvas. Beginning with a portrait in which he focuses on emotions and expression rather than the likeness of his subject, he then allows the material and printmaking patterns to guide his compositions intuitively.
He allows bodily shapes to fragment and deform into layers, some rich, others delicate, half-transparent, or patterned, adding his distinct surreal twist. Abate’s layering technique becomes a process to imagine and visualize the complex depths of the stories that may live within the bodies he depicts.
Abate’s composition is loaded with unexpected forms and textures, the majority of which are unrealistic. Figures are distorted, shapes are erratic, and color options are limited. The vast majority of events are unreal. This daring fantasy piques the artist’s interest. His creations, however, have a considerable amount of realism. This is why he regards his works as “fantasized realities”.
Kaleab Abate was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1998, where he also currently lives and works. In 2021, he graduated from the renowned Ale School of Fine Arts and Design, Addis Ababa, with a focus on printmaking. He has shown at INVESTEC Cape Town Art Fair and African Galleries Now x Artsy, and has completed a 3-month residency at Silhouette Projects in Kampala. In June 2023, he was part of the group exhibition Eastern Voices: Contemporary Art from East Africa at Addis Fine Art, London.