Beyond their initial appearance of formal casualness and lightness, Ermias Kifleyesus’s works embody extremely precise intentions and reflections. His art consistently addresses, both literally and figuratively, what might be called an aesthetics of transfer or migration of codes and conventions. Invited to participate in Found in Translation, Chapter H in Brussels in January 2010, Kifleyesus exhibited two trestle tables on which were displayed, under glass, the results of a protocol he had followed for a number of years in Brussels : twice a week he went to neighborhood “phone boutiques” where local immigrants could make inexpensive international calls, and there he left notepads in the phone booths. The next time he dropped by he would pick up the pads, now covered with drawings, notes and other semi-unconscious comments that phone users had made during their conversations. Kifleyesus thereby acquired a cartographic stock of anonymous, additive, participatory drawings.

Here we are exhibiting a new development of that protocol, which is still being implemented by Kifleyesus even though he decided to change the medium three years ago, when he replaced the notepads by cotton tablecloths found in flea markets. Sometimes, he traces underlying drawings on these cloths, which serve as a background for the scribbles added by phone callers. But the callers cannot directly perceive the picture in so far as it extends over several different cloths, only becoming apparent once all the cloths are aligned together. In some other instances, as in the present Greetings from Charleroi to Rome (whose title acts as a tribute to the seminal economic and cultural contribution of Italian emigration to Belgium and to the Charleroi region in particular), Kifleyesus’s intervention comes after, on the collected random graphic material collected, transferred or applied to the canvas. Usually, the “framing” drawings depict architectural perspectives, such as here Charleroi main station. The constant back-and-forth between public and private spheres, individual contributions and collective composition by X-number of hands, the artist’s designated design and the phone callers’ erratic additions, can sometimes acquire an additional layer of sedimentation through the process externally printing / applying the image on a wall in the public sphere.

This dialectic of randomly exposed intimacy is also although, in very different ways at the core of the two other works we brought to Sicily.
One is just a T-shirt, randomly stained with grease marks, given to the artist by a car mechanic who claims to be inspired by and fond of Cubist painting, whereas in the other case it is iconic transfer of the a found painting from Marché aux Puces which Kifleyesus has applied on a bed linen.

Museo Lucio Piccolo & Pescheria, Ficarra

13 August –30 September 2012

In the framework of
Alla Rincorsa della Lepre organised by Massimo Ricciardo