Tegene Kunbi

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The Haptic Dimension in Tegene’s Paintings                                                             
                                                     By Yohannes Mulat Mekonnen

April,  2023

In the wide, bright studio filled with several big-size canvases laid against the walls, while at least four others are in progress facing towards him, Tegene Kunbi is deeply engrossed in his work. He moves back and forth between the paintings, adding a stroke in one, and rubbing a tube of paint in the other. Tegene doesn't focus solely on one canvas; rather, he simultaneously works on all the surrounding pieces, his attention shifting seamlessly between them. 

Tegene’s paintings are characterized by the permanence of a strong, repetitive yet dynamic geometric framework, delineating registers of intense, thickly applied colors. Tegene's artistic processes involve layering thick coats of oil paint, acrylic, pastel, and often textiles. With precision, he employs palette knives, brushes, and his hands to create highly textured surfaces, each stroke adding depth and tactile complexity to his evolving works.

The haptic dimension in Tegene’s paintings emerges through the meticulous layering of oil paint, resulting in a textured canvas that not only captivates the viewer visually but also stimulates a tactile experience. While modernist views, such as those of Greenberg, emphasize painting's flatness as its defining feature, in order to distinguish painting from all other forms of art. this entails censoring and excluding elements beyond the visual or two dimensions, aiming for the purity of the medium.

Tegene challenges this notion by prioritizing a sensorial, haptic encounter with his work, viewing painting as a physical archive of the artist's hand senses and process.  He regards his paintings as indexical translations of his physical presence and embodiment. Through his deliberate material treatment and composition, Tegene aims to evoke a deep connection between the viewer and the physicality of the artwork.

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