The painter and the river

We first heard about Eyayu in April 2020 during the lockdown. A Sudanese researcher told us that an Ethiopian painter was using his art to raise awareness on the preservation of the Blue Nile and Lake Tana, we decided to get in touch with him. After months of virtual discussion, we finally met in his studio in Baher Dar.

Eyayu is considered an artist of national consciousness. Through his work, he reflects his own imaginary of Ethiopia. Having grown up on the banks of the lake, he developed a special relation to water that has a great influence on his paintings. Thus, when we talked with him about our project he kindly accepted us as his students and made the proposition to realise a common piece of art that will reflect our visions of the Nile.

Together, we designed a project to create an artwork that would symbolise the Nile and tell a different narrative to bring together Ethiopians, Egyptians and the people of Sudan (and more widely the whole Nile Basin). Before starting, we met regularly in his studio for 4 weeks to experiment with different ways of painting water and rivers and to discuss his vision of the Nile. From our exchanges and shared works we did a video called “the painter and the river”.

With Eyayu, we developed the idea that the final piece of art should travel along the Nile and serve as a medium to create debates and cooperation. After Ethiopia, we will try to exhibit it in Khartoum and Cairo. We also hope to continue our dialogue with Sudanese and Egyptian artists whose works are influenced by the Nile, the water and climate change.

We decided to name this painting “Sugypia” as a tribute to the three countries. So let’s make Sugypia a connecting thread between the children of the Nile.

አባይ, النيل, the Nile