Barbara & Worku Goshu: Creating Bridges Across Civilizations [Archives:1998/12/Last Page]
Adel J. Moqbil,
Barbara is Polish, Worku is Ethiopian. They met and married in Poland while Worku was studying art there. The two artists toured the world with their artistic creations. Now they are in Yemen, the first Arab country in which they hold an exhibition. This is not, however, their first encounter with the country. Almost 28 years ago, they visited Aden with their little daughter on their way back from Poland to Ethiopia. Their second visit was 4 years ago, just to get the feel and the atmosphere of the place.
Invited by the Polish Embassy and hosted by the Halaqa group of artists to hold a joint exhibition in Yemen, Barbara and Worku expressed their appreciation for both bodies. “We are here to exhibit Ethiopian art, which is very much similar to Yemen’s,” said Barbara. Their other sponsors include the travel agents Falcon, Universal, Wings, and Yemenia Airlines.
“We came here to share our experiences with Yemeni artists, to give and to learn from them,” announced Worku , who taught art at the Institute of Fine Arts, Addis Ababa, and has his own arts gallery in the Ethiopian capital.
They are both impressed by the “fascinating architecture, the majestic landscape, and the people’s generosity and hospitality.”
Coming from Cracow – the seat of Polish culture, art, tradition, music, poetry and architecture – has prepared Barbara’s “mentality and spirit to associate freely with other cultures and traditions.” For Barbara, Ethiopia and Yemen represent a great source of inspiration not only artistically, but also in terms of religious harmony and tolerance. “In my art, I follow the orthodox line, both traditional and religious, in order to bridge the gap between the past greatness of ancient civilizations and the aspirations of the new generations,” explained Barbara. One of Worku’s good students at the Fine Arts Institute was a Yemeni girl living in Ethiopia, so really “the ties between the two countries never ceased during the past few millennia.”As a child, Worku learned to paint with naturally colored substances and was very much influenced by the country’s diverse topography. After graduating from the Modern Art School, he got a scholarship to Poland where he later studied and met his wife Barbara.
Barbara and Worku first opened their private gallery two years ago in Addis Ababa to which they extended an open invitation to Yemeni artists to exhibit there. It is part of their continuous efforts to “promote the work of young artists, including Yemenis.”
On his part, the Polish Ambassador to Yemen, Mr. Krzystof Suprowicz expressed his delight in the big response of Yemeni travel agents and tour operators who are extremely helpful and more than willing to help with the organization of this event.
“I have no doubt that the Islamic civilization not only influenced our knowledge in Europe, but also our art and culture,” he pointed out.
Highly influenced by Christian culture, Worku’s paintings and Barbara’s icons on wood with their angelic, big-eyed, forlorn, and almost alien faces are the dominant feature that runs through the couple’s artistic creations, whether they depict Adam and Eve, King Solomon and Queen Bilquis or Jesus Christ and other Christian saints.
All in all, the exhibition, set to go until 28 March at Halaqa, includes 25 oil paintings by Worku, 28 wood carvings and 24 paintings on stone by Barbara.
On another level, the First Secretary at the Polish Embassy, Mr. Kazimierz Romanski indicated that the upcoming 2nd European Film Festival, which will be held from 26 May to 1 June in Sanaa, will include films from France, Germany, Britain, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland. As a member of the festival’s organizing committee who is responsible for contacts with the media, Mr. Romanski also indicated that mistakes made in the last festival such as making Yemeni people stand in long queues at the festival’s gate; while, non-Yemenis were let in without a question, will be “avoided in this event.”
In last year’s festival, only the French film was shown with Arabic subtitles. Let’s hope that other participant countries will follow suit this time.