Ethiopian-born, France-educated and now celebrated Vancouver-based artist, Yared Nigussu is gaining more recognition in Canada and internationally.
Yared studied art at the Addis Ababa University School of Fine Arts and Design and graduated in Art and Education with major in painting in 2005. He was awarded a scholarship in Northern France where he taught art and was involved in many exhibitions.
After moving to Canada in 2009 the artist has been fascinated by Vancouver’s beauty which resulted in the creation of recent series of Vancouver cityscapes.
Yared holds the title of being the first ever Art Battle National Champion after dominating in both the Vancouver Finals and Toronto Championship in 2012. Yared won this title three times in a row having become a champion of the years 2013 and 2014.
The spectrum of his work is quite amazing: from powerful and insightful large-scale paintings of people’s faces and other figurative works to dynamic cityscapes reflecting the fast motion of urban world, the speed of our hectic lives.
Yared's work has been exhibited in France, Austria and Canada, and is now widely collected internationally.
2013 Kurbatoff Gallery, Vancouver, BC
2014 Coach Gallery, Victoria, BC
SoArt, Millstattersee, Austria
FAi: When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?
Yared Nigussu: As far as I can recall, I always wanted to be an artist. I think I was 12 years old when I first got a small recognition from my school teachers and friends. I remember I used to draw in every exercise book and most teachers were not happy that I used their teaching time to sketch and draw. In weekends, I used to draw and paint instead of doing my homework for school and my mathematics teacher especially used to get upset towards me. One day, he asked me what can I do good? I replied that I can draw something nice. He asked me to paint him that ''something nice''. I did what he expected me to do and since that day, I have been allowed to draw and got full support and encouragement.
FAi: Who are your influences?
Yared Nigussu: I am always influenced by all kinds of good art and artists. I am a very open-minded person that allows any ideas to circulate into my mind. From all these artists, there are a few whose work speaks to me and indeed Influences and inspires me to work.
I have loved the works of the Old Masters for a long time. I love so much the Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani. His modern style and simplicity attracted me since a very young age. A French contemporary artist Jérôme Lagarrigue is the one and the most that I have ever been influenced by. I hope that one day I could meet him in person, have a coffee and talk about his journey. Another great artist from England that I admire is Jenny Seville. She is such a phenomenon.
FAi: Do you prefer painting in front of people, outdoors, or in the studio?
Yared Nigussu: They all bring a different feeling and mindset. When I paint in my studio, I am kind of a thinker. I take my time to correct myself and balance my work regarding to color, contrast, movements, light, shadow and what is right or what is not right. It's like a conversation between my work and myself... remembering what I have learned about elements of art in school. It's more like studying. I call my studio work as a form of intellect. When I paint in front of people, it is a different form of knowledge, which is more likely intuition. I just trust all the brush movements and see where it goes. The end is a cheerful and pleasurable surprise.
FAi: What made you decide to move to Vancouver?
Yared Nigussu: I lived in France for years. I loved the people and the country's culture so much but I realized that it was not the right time for me to be there if I wanted to continue to live with my art. So that was my main reason to move out from France and to live my dream as an artist. I had three places where to go: Singapore, Louisiana and Vancouver. I chose Vancouver without even knowing much about it. When I got here, I really fell in love with this city and I don't regret anything.
FAi: What is your greatest achievement?
Yared Nigussu: I think one of my greatest achievements is my dedication to working hard. It seems like doing art is in my blood. Almost every single day, I go to my studio and work. I always try to dig for inspiration in the corner of a coffee shop that is located near my studio. When I finish my work every day, I feel I achieved something until I see something I don't like on my work.
I also believe that my calling is to be an Artist and using this gift properly is a great achievement that makes me feel happy.
FAi: What is the greatest challenge you have faced?
Yared Nigussu: At first, the greatest challenge for me was how I am going to create a genuine connection with artists, how to showcase my art in a very good art space, meet art lovers, art collectors and how to have an excellent gallery representation.
Once I straightened up that part, I found out that I had something to work on myself because I am a last-minute person. I mean I always wait until the very last days to meet a deadline. I spend lots of time thinking, getting inspired and procrastinating. I'm still working on it!
I am sure there are many artists who share these challenges, although I am working hard on that area and I am becoming more and more efficient with my organization skills. Besides, I am grateful to work with people and galleries who adore my artwork and believe in my creative process.
FAi: What are your plans for the future?
Yared Nigussu: I can only talk about my short term future plans :) I am very excited for my upcoming show in May at Kurbatoff Gallery.
My next plans for the future is to do more large size artworks and doing a collaborative artwork with other artists in Canada and outside of Canada. I've already started to create a connection with well-known artists From Canada, Africa and Europe. Just after my Solo Exhibition at Kurbatoff Gallery in May 2016, I will travel to Africa and Europe in order to meet and visit these artists. I can't wait to see the result of this new experience.