The Art of Eyob Mergia

Our featured artists:

HALL ONE: Thomas Shields
HALL TWO: Mark W. McGinnis
HALL THREE: Carl Grupp
HALL FOUR: Joel Strasser
HALL FIVE: Eyob Mergia
HALL SIX: Robert Aldern
HALL SEVEN: Jerry Aistrup
HALL EIGHT: Dick Krueger
Coming Soon: Mary Selvig, Richard Bresnahan

Eyob Mergia

Soul, Body, Spirit

If he were an astronaut, they'd say, "He's got the right stuff." In jazz circles, they would say, "He's got the chops." In any case, with whatever words, one must take note of a younger artist who has inspired the recognition and respect of established artists and art patrons. He signs his work Eyob (for Eyob Mergia) and is perhaps best recognized as the painter of the controversial mural on the wall of Great Plains Coffeehouse at East 12th and Grange in Sioux Falls.
Photo above reprinted from the Worthington Globe,
June 30, 2001. Used with Permission.

Fall Triptich
Above: Falls Triptych
Click on image for larger view.

Eyob's series honoring the memory of 9/11 at the Multicultural Center was a knock-out for many viewers, and a showing at Worthington, Minn., dazzled those who caught it. He has demonstrated an extraordinary advance from one showing to another -- at the Full Circle Gallery, Rehfeld's, and the Eide-Dalrymple, among other venues. Indeed he seems to be attempting to top himself with each new outing.


Above: Contact
Click on image for larger view.

The 9/11 paintings may be taken as nothing less than a contemporary equivalent of Picasso's "Guernica": not just a representation in images, but a recreation of the emotions summoned up by the event and a meditation upon its sigificance. In the painting above, depicting the moment of initial impact between the airliner and the building, the eyes, a motif drawn from Egyptian art, seem to represent the individual souls about to meet their fate. Death, symbolized by a skull, is at the controls, and the force of impact is already starting to drive the victims forward. There is in the image a sense of the dawning of inevitable catastrophe.

Click on image for larger view.

Eyob has obviously learned from Picasso, along with many other of the greatest artists of the last century, borrowing and augmenting to create his own individual style, by turns symbolic, expressionistic, and surreal, always supremely drafted and integral.

In striving to talk about his efforts to charge his art emotionally, he sometimes resorts to sweeping gestures: "I strike once, and then again, and then again," each time lunging forward like a fencer with an imaginary foil, scoring with each coup. Struggling with a language still challenging for him, he nevertheless manages to convey a passion and earnestness that leave the listener feeling unworthy, a shirker in comparison.

All Fall Down

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In viewing his current output, one might guess that his art grew out of a grounding in African ceremonial art, but he had instead an education in the realistic tradition at the Ethiopian Fine Arts Institute in Addis Ababa. He augmented his formal studies with self-study in Cubism and Expressionism. After arriving in Sioux Falls in 1997, he took additional courses at Augustana. As a result, he can move from realism to abstraction with an ease that is breathtaking. "For me, art is a way to give and receive love in my own personal language," he proclaims.


Click on image for larger view.

Eyob fills small notebooks daily with intricate drawings, each one a potential painting, and his apartment-studio is already brimming with work of staggering scope and variety. His ardent invocation of the great art of the past, combined with his demonstrations of pioneering spirit, can leave nobody doubting that the true flame of a superior artist burns within him. --Ron Robinson, adapted from his etc. magazine column, January, 2003.

9/11 Triptych

Click on image for larger view.


My name is Eyob Mergia. I was born in Deberebrhun, which is thirty miles from the capital city of Ethiopia. Ever since I was a little kid, I dreamed of art. I wanted to be a professional artist. I wanted to leave Ethiopia and study art in different countries. I wanted to explore different cultures and languages of art.

I went to school at Hail Maria Mamo. After I graduated from high school, I moved to Adis Ababa (the capital city) and studied art at the Ethiopian fine arts Institute for four years. Some of the things I studied were the structure of paintings, drawing, graphics, set design, illustration, structure, industrial design, screen print, mural art, color study perspective, nude drawing, and lettering.


Click on image for larger view.

The Ethiopian fine Arts Institute most of the time focused on realism. Because of the focus, I have a very strong background in the field of realism art. This strong background has helped me to do many different types of work, such as group work, such as group work. I had friends who graduated from different countries, artists, both domestic and international, and I was able to work with them and have exhibitions with them. We had group shows (back in Ethiopia) at the national museum, German culture, American, school.

After I graduated from college, I started to work for different organizations and churches. I would do such things as installation, papermaking, photography, and music and art combinations.

Click on image for larger view.

I came to Sioux Falls in 1997. After a few months I started to attend art classes at Augustana College. I also worked in the art room at Roosevelt high school. I have had art shows in several different places in Sioux Falls: the Full Circle Gallery, The rehfeld Gallery, the Multicultural Center, and Augustana College. I had an exhibition in Worthington, Minn. I provided all types of artwork for the show.

Depths in Dark
(LEFT: "Depths in Dark." Click on Image to enlarge.)

For me art is a way to give and receive love in my own personal language. I have studied realism for a very long time. The reason is because I wanted to study the human anatomy and change it into the language of art. Realism, both landscape and human figure, is my passion and my hunger. When I work in abstract art I sometimes hear strange sounds in my head and I change that sound into artwork on the canvas.

Dance in Motion

(RIGHT: "Dance in Motion." Click on image to enlarge.)

I really work hard to get my artwork to look exactly as I want it. I sometimes copy techniques from famous artists and paintings. At this moment I am studying mixed media and non-figurative art. My art shows what I am thinking and what I am experiencing from the inner part of my soul.--Eyob Mergia.

Instinct Composition
(LEFT: "Instinct Composition." Click on image to enlarge.)

Eyob Mergia may be contacted through Carol Wright at Hands On, e-mail, hands_on_cc@msn.com, phone 605-977-2667.

(RIGHT: "Motherhood." Click on image to enlarge.)

(LEFT: "Natural." Click on image to enlarge.)

Soul, Body, Spirit
(RIGHT: "Soul,Body,Spirit." Click on image to enlarge.)

Stretching (LEFT: "Stretching." Click on image to enlarge.)

Stretching Two
(RIGHT: "Stretching Two." Click on image to enlarge.)

Sunrise Love
(LEFT: "Sunrise Love." Click on image to enlarge.)

Sunrise Stretching
(RIGHT: "Sunrise Stretching." Click on image to enlarge.)

The Bar
(LEFT: "The Bar." Click on image to enlarge.)

Eyob Mergia may be contacted through Carol Wright at Hands On, e-mail, hands_on_cc@msn.com, phone 605-977-2667.

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