Ethiopian Icons

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Welcome to Gebre Merha Yohannes

Gebre Merha Yohannes is an Ethiopian artist received the traditional training - was born and raised in the ancient holy city and former imperial capital of Axum (Aksum) from Priest Merha Yohannes and W/ro Mebrhat Demoze.

I was learned iconography and painting in the traditional manner, passed down for generations in my family of distinguished artists. Now I live and work in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. My family provides me with wood for his carvings and paintings from the mountains surrounding Axum.

My birth place, Axum, is also known for its rich archeological findings and a house for the Biblical Ark of the Covenant (that contains which lie the Tablets of Law upon which the Ten Commandments are inscribed) at St Mary of Zion church, built in 1665. Other features of Axum include the Northern Stelae Park, or the Obelisk of Axum monuments erected in the town which are carved with architectural designs.

My Icons and paint works Focus on:

I’m more often fascinated with and my works are influenced by the 16th – 19th century Ethiopian art works. Doing all these, I would be happy if I were able to own my own icons forever. But I sell some—to generate income and work more as well as to share out the Glory and Wonder of Almighty – God through art.

  • Icons & Paints
    • The history of the virgin mary,
    • Jesus and Scenes from His life
    (Birth, … Crucifixion, Resurrection, Preaching and back to Heaven)
    • Saints
    • Angels
    • Prophets and the other.

  • All the above works are

    • With rich and luminous colors
    • Biblical history is expressed highly detailed;
    • Wood is beautifully carved and
    • Layout from typical of many pocket-size personal icons up to very large ones

My Traditional Art school

  •  I was brought up observing and learning the above rich history surrounds me, so it contributed an intense artistic interest in life around me. I was ever found busy with pencil or pen sketching and drawing, even during my regular non art/ academic class.

    Since my early age, I actually apprenticed under my grandfather, Yohannes, a priest and well known artist in Axum until 1977- who has influenced my life. He used to paint for churches mainly at Axum, its surroundings including at the cliff-top monastery of Debre Damo. During his preparation for paint work, I recall fondly how my grandfather used to prepare black paint from the wood-smoke carbon that accumulated on cooking pots. Yohannes had properly trained almost all his sons and grandsons during his long period of Icon and paint works. Now, his descendants are among the well known artist found in Axum and Addis Ababa for their distinctive Orthodox Church Icon products and pain on canvas as well as hide.

    As a result, art is built up inside my blood and soul, because I was brought up in premises where the air always smelled of painting colors.

    Making icons and paints remain an important vocation for me and I believe that I’ve kept the tradition alive. So, the Ethiopian art which has distinctive form to our religious images is certainly not over.

Reference Website