Women are the central focus of Martha Mengistu’s paintings. The lives women lead, the way they dress, their hair styles, as well as their personal, social and economic lives impress Mengistu. For her, women have special expressive effects to represent life. Women have the power to reveal the dark and bright sides of life, reflect happiness and blues, and depict the most profound emotions and internal feelings. Through the interaction of patterns of lines, designs, and a number of vibrant colors, Mengistu portrays women on her canvases to express all the ideas that may come to the corner of her mind.
Stylized female figures that are full of grace and movement are features of Mengistu’s paintings. Each painting is memorable and evocative with subjects who are mostly tall, elongated and decorated women that capture the story of their lives written in their faces, their postures, and gaze.
Mengistu’s work reflects her multifarious gifts: patience, draftsmanship, and minute attention to detail. Luxuriant color, glowing light and shade, sensuous brushwork, and an elegant composition all serve to further the beauty of the paintings.
Mengistu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and she earned a Bachelors degree in Mural Arts at the Alle School of Fine Arts and Design of Addis Ababa University. She realized her passion for art at the age of six and started to spend her time with a paper and pencil trying to capture her surroundings.
Mengistu’s works have been displayed in galleries and public spaces, such as the Alliance Ethio-Francaise, the National Museum, numerous embassies, and exhibitions in solo and group shows. In an art scene dominated by men, Mengistu’s works stand out and she is recognized by many to be one of the best female artists of Ethiopia.
St. George Gallery has exhibited Martha Mengistu’s work since 2005.