Born in 1950 in the Arat Kilo district of Addis Ababa, Wosene Worke Kosrof is a contemporary artist who has achieved international acclaim. Formally trained at the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts, he completed a BFA with distinction in 1972. Then, as a Ford Foundation Talent Scholar, he was awarded an MFA in 1980 from Howard University in Washington, DC.
Over the past four decades, Wosene (his professional name) has created an internationally recognized artistic signature in his work by being the first contemporary Ethiopian-born artist to use the script forms – fiedel – of his native Amharic as a core element in his paintings and sculptures. This recognizable ‘signature’ emerges from the way he elongates, distorts, dissects and reassembles Amharic symbols – not as literal words – but as images that speak for themselves in a visual language accessible to international audiences. Jazz improvisations underlie his compositions, animating them with rhythmic movements and emboldening his masterful use of color.
The very nature of Wosene’s work – his visual vocabulary, his ‘mapping’ of cultures across time and place, his sensual use of form and color – testifies to the visual power and versatility of language. “I create a visible, interactive surface – like visual icons that are accessible to everyone. My paintings invite viewers to dialogue with them, to take them into their memory.” A major aspect of Wosene’s works is that they present us with a challenge to look into the art, feel its effect, and to watch what happens. He paints from a place between mastery and uncertainty – and so the viewer too can approach his work to discover meanings that emerge through interaction.
Wosene lives and has his studio in Berkeley, California.