Born in 1989 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian artist Samson Kebede is known for his ‘Telsem’ paintings, which focus on esoteric wisdom. His paintings honour and reflect the ancient culture and traditions of Ethiopian art.
Samson studied at the school of fine art and design at Addis Ababa University. There he studied ‘Telsem’ which is a part of traditional Ethiopian art. The Amharic word telsem is interpreted as: ‘to put something in symbolic/numeric or alphabetical form, which has a spiritual or philosophical meaning. Through his paintings, Samson tries to convey the spiritual, traditional and psychological aspects of human life.
In ancient times Telsem was used for healing purposes, and was believed to bring relief to the body and soul. It could be applied in different ways including through herbal preparations, in the form of Kitab (magic scroll), by making tattoos (nksat) on the body, creating designs on the façade of houses, or by the reading out the magical text to heal the person.
Samson has exhibited his works at various galleries and art fairs in Ethiopia, including the National Museum of Ethiopia.
He was recently part of the Sound of Change collaboration in Addis Ababa.
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