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Elias Sime, Veiled Whispers, 2021. Courtesy the artist and James Cohan Gallery. Photo Thomas Barratt

Elias Sime: Eregata እርጋታ
Quentin Blake: A Hundred Drawings

HOT’s Judy Parkinson will think twice about recycling her phone in a hurry after taking in a spectacular double bill at Hastings Contemporary showing the work of Ethiopian artist Elias Sime and Sir Quentin Blake.

Eregata እርጋታ is by Elias Sime, one of Ethiopia’s most exciting contemporary artists who applies extraordinary craftsmanship to an abundance of discarded man-made objects to create lyrical abstract configurations.

Elias Sime was born in Addis Ababa in 1968 and his work has been acclaimed throughout the world, featuring prominently at this year’s Venice Biennale. His artistic approach embraces the precariousness of our interconnected world alluding to our complicated relationships with the past and present, face to face and virtual contact, the natural world and the man-made object.

Eregata እርጋታ begins with Sime’s most recent works which are majestically macro in scale and micro on closer inspection.  Sime sources materials at Addis Mercato, the world’s largest open market, where he reclaims the waste matter of modern technology, from motherboards, cables, computer keys, batteries to screens and wires. He transforms this detritus of our tech cast-offs into sweeping forms fusing matter and artistic ideas, exploring global issues of sustainability, the resources we consume and the impact of technology.

The show includes complex and lyrical abstract topographies from Sime’s landmark series Tightrope (2009-present), and Bareness (2014), a large-scale ceramic installation consisting of 192 clay vessels which reflect Ethiopian craft and cultural traditions.

Elias Sime, Tightrope Concave Triangle #2, 2020. Courtesy the Artist & GRIMM & James Cohan Gallery. Photo Jonathan de Waart



The title Eregata እርጋታ is derived from Amharic, the most widely spoken language in Ethiopia, which the artist translates into English as ‘serene’. While one understanding of the word is a sense of stillness and calm, Sime describes eregata as recognition that our minds are never truly still or calm.

“We struggle to stop and sleep because our brains are constantly stimulated by tec

hnology – we are constantly moving faster not slower.” Sime rails against this fixation with technology, embracing a notion of slowness. “My art is slowing it down,” he states. “The work forces me to slow down.”

Sime adopts a collaborative approach, working with a team of studio assistants; a process which reflects the reused and repurposed technological materials which have passed through numerous hands on their journey from raw material to waste.

“Each material I collect has its own story and has been touched by many hands. It has its own language. All the different stories related to the material move me, and I transform these intuitive reactions into my compositions.”

Imaginary portraits series (5)

Liz Gilmore, Director of Hastings Contemporary said, “As part of Hastings Contemporary’s ongoing commitment to bringing world-class art to Hastings, we are thrilled to be launching our spring season by showcasing the work of Ethiopian artist, Elias Sime. Running concurrently with Sime’s exhibition in Venice, this ambitious exhibition offers fresh dialogue about globally important matters of environmental sustainability and the impacts of technology, made all the more poignant by the gallery’s unique position between land and sea.”

Eregata እርጋታ appears alongside new drawings by Sir Quentin Blake who returns to Hastings Contemporary with 100 unique imaginary portraits, each for sale with prices starting at £350. Sir Quentin is Hastings Contemporary’s Artist Patron, supporting the gallery in its mission to bring world-class art to the town for everyone’s benefit and enjoyment.

Hanging the green portraits

Sir Quentin says, “For 40 years, I had an ancient house in Hastings Old Town, with boats close by, and then one day they built an art gallery at the bottom of the street. I have spent a lot of time over the years creating commissioned work, and Hastings Contemporary has inspired in me a freedom to make work for myself. Next year the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration will open in London, but Hastings will always be my spiritual home.”

The portraits on display will range from large works in watercolour pencil to postcard-sized pieces in biro.

Speaking about the creative process behind these works, Sir Quentin says, “When I start to draw, I might have a sense of whether it will be a man or woman, young or old, but I discover the person while doing it… slowly I begin to meet the person and find out who they are.”

Imaginary portraits for sale

“Whoever you are and however you do it, drawing can be transformative!” says Liz Gilmore.” Quentin’s inspiring words capture the ethos and intentions of our gallery and the exhibition. Hastings and Rother are places of astonishing creativity, we are inviting everyone to visit the gallery and make use of our Drawing Hub, a dedicated space for all ages and abilities to enjoy the power of drawing.

“At Hastings Contemporary we recognise the vital and transformative power of art to transcend boundaries and borders. We launch this show in tandem with the rollout of our local ticket discount to include Rother residents, as well as Hastings residents, so more people than ever can visit the gallery for half price.”

Elias Sime: Eregata እርጋታ originated at Arnolfini, Bristol UK, and is a collaboration with Hastings Contemporary and Kunstpalast Düsseldorf, Germany.

Elias Sime: Eregata እርጋታ  and drawings by Quentin Blake

16th March – 8th September 2024


Hastings Contemporary

Rock-a-Nore Road, Hastings TN34 3DW


Wednesday to Sunday and Bank Holidays

11am to 5pm (last entry 4.40pm)


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Posted 15:35 Wednesday, Mar 20, 2024 In: Public Arts

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