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Unity III​ 2019
Wool, synthetic fibers, fabric, cotton
200 x 150 x 6cm 
Produced by the Senegalese Manufactures of Decorative Arts
Enhanced by Paqui (couture)
Collection: ​Blachère Foundation

Kirubel Melke is a visual artist, born in 1983 in Addis Ababa. He lives and works in Ethiopia. Inspired by his mother's work in a textile factory, Kirubel Melke imagines figurative (politically engaged) and abstract compositions from fragments of fabric.

Guest at Sennagal by the Blachère Foundation, for a residency led by Versant Sud, Kirubel Melke worked on a tapestry inspired by Ethiopian clothing and historical painting.

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Unity III

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Production residency

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8 weeks

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AAF Presentation



Blachere Foundation

For Kirubel Melke, a fragment of fabric is the metaphor of an individual as a member of a larger societal fabric. Clothing trends reveal the roots and current interests of a society, as well as the transition from tradition to a modernity that is now globalized.


With Unity III, Melke continues to draw inspiration from clothing as a way to display her cultural leanings and identity. The work consists of a grid, a traditional compositional style of Ethiopian historical painting. The inclusion of a circle – a symbol of unity and a reference to the sun – which seems to be missing from the tapestry, echoes the value of declining cultural unity in Ethiopia in the face of rapid modernization of the country.

The artist collaborated with Les Manufactures Sénégalaises des Arts Décoratifs de Thiès, for the realization of his work. After more than fifty years of activity, the Senegalese Manufactures of Decorative Arts of Thiès constitute a reference in artistic production and in the development of cultural and creative industries in Africa.

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"Fabric continues to be a primary source of inspiration. A fabric fragment metaphorically represents the individual as a fragment of a larger social fabric. Cultural trends in clothing reveal a society's roots and current interests, as well as the shift from tradition to globalized modernity."
© Making of: South Side
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in partnership with 


Blachere Foundation

The Jean-Paul Blachère corporate foundation, since 2004, wants to participate in the development of Africa by helping contemporary creation and the promotion of its artists. In its art center, it presents exhibitions and welcomes artists in residence. She also organizes creative workshops in Africa and Europe and participates in major African biennials, including that of Dakar in particular. She is in charge of the conservation of the works of the Blachère Collection.

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