Wosene Worke Kosrof

1950 · Ethiopia

Artist biography

Over the past four decades, Wosene Worke Kosrof (b. 1950) has created his own idiosyncratic and recognisable artistic signature found throughout his work, the use of the Fiedel script, derived from his native Amharic language, which is incorporated into his paintings. The use of the ancient script, combined with abstract influences from the American modernist movement, synthesizes seamlessly on his canvases to create works which speak to Kosrof’s own experiences as an American – Ethiopian. The script is often found in his work accompanied by musical notes, a separate nod to another of his great influences, American jazz music, which he often plays whilst working, serving as a tool of inspiration.

As a student Kosrof discovered his interested in Coptic icon paintings and “Magic Scrolls”. He strove to break away from the traditional format of figurative paintings, associated with Ethiopian paintings, but simultaneously aiming to preserving the richness and complexity of the Ethiopian culture. Within his complex compositions crouched figures engaging in traditional coffee making techniques can be found. The cultural symbols are complemented by the Fiedel script. Words such as “injera”, (Ethiopian bread), are visible to those able to discern the script.

Born in 1950 in the Arat Kilo district of Addis Ababa, Wosene Worke Kosrof is a contemporary fine artist who has achieved international acclaim. Formally trained at the Addis Ababa University, Alle School of Fine Arts and Design, he completed a BFA with distinction in 1972. Then, as a Ford Foundation Talent Scholar, he was awarded an MFA in 1980 from Howard University in Washington, DC.

Museums with his works in their permanent collections include the National Museum of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa; Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (DC); The Newark Museum (NJ); Neuberger Museum (NY); Indianapolis Museum of Art (IN); Birmingham Museum of Art (AL); Fowler Museum of UCLA (CA); Samuel Harn Museum (FL); Krannert Art Museum, (IL): Fleming Museum (VT), the Völkerkunde Museum, Switzerland. My Liberty, 2016 was acquired in 2017 by the Virginia Museum of Fine Art. Wosene has exhibited extensively in museums and institutions across the world, including Körsbärsgården museum, Gotland, Sweden (2019); Keith Haring Museum, Japan (2017); Kennedy Museum of Art, Ohio University, Athens, OH (2016); Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA (2011) and Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC (2007).

Wosene Worke Kosrof

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