Yenatfenta Abate developed the concept "Free Art Felega" - the search for free art - from her experience of intercultural work in artistic exchange between Germany and Ethiopia between 1996 and 2004.
The objective of the ongoing project is the development of the abilities and skills of Ethiopian artists, especially the "liberation" from applied art in the extensive overall context of modern visual arts. The original artistic training is given special consideration and is further developed through the concept of free art.
In terms of content, "Free Art Felega" guarantees to strengthen the quality of the artistic exchange, to create artistic identities and to enable artists to have a common platform in the long term.
Yenatfenta Abate, November 2020
Free Art Felega
By founding Free Art Felega - the search for free art - Yenatfenta Abate gives Ethiopian artists the opportunity to develop their artistic skills and broaden their horizons. Art is not limited by its material but by its creator. And if the creator has a free mindset with the wish to create something new, everything is possible.
Yenatfenta Abate - born and raised in Ethiopia in 1973 - is today living and working in Berlin and Hamburg. The roots of her artistic development date back to her early childhood and intensively developed after high school graduation upon starting her studies at the Ale School of Fine Arts and Design. At this time she was the only woman enrolled in the academic year.
In 1990, Yenatfenta Abate was awarded the “Prize of Montreal” including a scholarship allowing her to pick up further studies abroad. Subsequently she studied art education at the Pedagogical University of Heidelberg. In 1993, she changed to the University of Artistic Education in Hamburg where she studied “Free Arts“ with Professors Gotthard Graubner and Franz Erhard Walther after successfully completing her basic studies.
In 2003, she was awarded the diploma with distinction by Professor Olav Christopher Jensen. Thereafter, she commenced postgraduate studies as master student of Franz Erhard Walther, which she finished with a comprehensive exhibition in 2008.
The story of Free Art Felega:
In 1996, Yenatfenta Abate started organizing the exchange between artists from Germany and those from her home country Ethiopia for the first time. Implementation was also supported by the Ale School of Fine Arts and Design.
In collaboration with the professors of the Ale School of Fine Arts and Design and their consultancy she succeeded in showing the first slide shows and work reviews. The long-term conceptual design of a project series in exchange between Ethiopia and Germany was made in planning meetings with the artists on site at the end of 2002.
Since 1998, she has displayed her artworks in individual and group exhibitions in Germany and abroad. She was awarded several scholarships of academic excellence, numerous prizes and represented her home country on occasion of prestigious art exhibitions such as “African Women Artists” and “Germany and Ethiopia” - Longing for Distance” of the Dresden State Art Collections.Thereafter, project followed as, for instance, the design of the “Ethiopian Buddy Bear” of the Herlitz Foundation for which she represented her home country as an artist.
After she had been granted a foreign scholarship by the Karl-Heinz Ditze Foundation in 2004, the stage was set for the first part of the “Free Art Felega”-program. This was initiated by Yenatfenta Abate in order to turn to Free Art in Ethiopia together with selected artists with the purpose to develop long-term perspectives for the contemporary artists.
In 2008, Yenatfenta Abate was then given the possibility to realize the follow-up project “Free-Art-Felega II” within the scope of an Artist in Residence Program in cooperation with the Goethe Institute Addis Ababa. The success paved the way for the continuation by the “Free Art Felega III” in 2009, also supported by the Goethe Institute Addis Ababa. Twelve distinguished, young Ethiopian artists were invited to the integrated workshop. The particular characteristic of this group of artists was that their artworks related to the previous projects. Furthermore, they regarded Free Art as part of their artistic development. On occasion of this project series the catalogue “FAF III” was published and scholarships were granted to selected artists.