Hi, I am Kidist H. Degaffe Born in Ethiopia and now living in Switzerland. My art is mainly on Endurance: a life account of the living conditions between poor and developed world.

Few words about Kidist

Kidist Hailu Degaffe is an Ethiopian born portraitist who expresses and communicates her message in her Endurance Art. Her narrations give a life account of the living conditions in the poor & developed world. She has been painting professionally since 2005.

Degaffe is an emotional painter. Since childhood her love for art was deep, but as art was not encouraged, she continued her studies into the social sciences & worked in different fields. She was not completely happy. In 2003 she joined M.A.T.T. Fine Art Academy, to graduate in 2005. Thus resigning from her former work she went into full-time painting. Degaffe continually updates her performance in workshops & retreats.

Click to Download: Routes of Endurance Art

Degaffe debuted in 2005 in a group show entitled ‘The Plight of Stranded Migrants’, at the International Organization for Migration Day in Ethiopia. In solo exhibitions at the International Committee of the Red Cross & at the Hilton Addis Ababa (Ethiopia, 2005) she showed her concern to help in the efforts of local NGOs.

When Ethiopia was hit by the great famine of the eighties, Degaffe was 13 years old. This has marked her severe brushmarks in the series of children portraits that she produced in memory of children victim of this terrible disaster.

Among subjects of her cultural study are the People of Surma (South Ethiopia), whereby her paintings of experimentation (4 to 8 parts forming one image) was shown in the open studio visit during her stay at the Vermont Studio Center (U.S.A, 2012)

After her first Artist’s grant in 2010 at the Vermont Studio Center, Degaffe exhibited at Skoto (New York).

Being interested to bring to light what may be forgotten, Degaffe paints women, men, children, animals, land/seascapes, personalities, migration & cultural interpretation. Among her themes : ‘life is not full without her’, ‘let children play without fear’, ‘cross at Zebras (road safety)’, ‘Africa Untitled’, ‘Endurance’, ‘iMigration’

With a group of six women artists, Degaffe was active in organizing projects such as ‘We the Women’ (Women’s Affairs Bureau, 2006). Degaffe believes in the empowerment of women through Art. In the empowerment of any profession, one is endowed with. Betterment of living conditions by the quality of work.

Among her works in the fight against poverty, we find ‘say no to harmful practices’, ‘stop abduction’, ‘stop pollution’, & ‘nightlife’. In 2008 Degaffe’s ‘Midday Talk’, gouache on canvas, was among those put for auction in the ‘Art for Life’ project, by Safe Hands for Mothers Charity in London.

In 2008, Degaffe was selected to join 30 Ethiopian Contemporary Artists who painted a 100 meters (328 feet) long canvas at the center square of Addis Ababa. ‘Stop early marriage’ was the slogan & message, to help with the efforts to eliminate the consequences of poverty such as early marriage & related problems of Obstetric Fistula. The project was launched by the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund). Degaffe visited the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa & traveled to Asosa (Western Ethiopia) together with artists & the painting. The work attracted many visitors, & traveled to Europe (Spain) & later on, it was divided into parts to be donated as a gift to UNFPA Partners. (Later on in Geneva, in 2014, when the International Day to End Fistula was celebrated, Degaffe’s portrait paintings of women accompanied the event at its conference.

Degaffe’s first solo exhibition in Europe was titled ‘The Look of Ethiopia’, (Lausanne, 2008). It included endurance portraits, landscapes & in-situ works, (influence of Lake Geneva & its steamboats)

Degaffe has shown her works at Art Salons (Zurich, 2009 & Paris, 2014). In virtual exhibitions, she showed her Endurance Portraits at Art Expo New York (Artifacts, 2015) & at Spectrum Miami (the ArtBox.Projects, 2016).

Degaffe’s big sized painting titled ‘the gallop’ is found at the National Museum of Ethiopia.

Degaffe has taken part in group shows with themes such as ‘Universal Peace’, ‘Animal Life’. She has brought the warm colors of Africa, in her stylized works of expressive portraits & landscapes.

To reach out to the public, Degaffe also shows her works outside of gallery space, such as in social centers, cinema entry halls, restaurants or public events. In summer she shares her love for art in workshops at Elderly Homes (Nursing Homes), with her ‘Joy of painting’ courses (Chexbres 2015 - 2018). She shows her works in a smaller exhibition together with works of her pupils at the end of the workshops.

Outdoors painting activities, she finds inspiration for inter-cultural exchanges (Estavayer le lac, 2013 & 2015) & inspiration Gustave Courbet week ‘In the manner of Courbet’ (La Tour de Peilz, 2010 & 2011). Degaffe interpreted the late-life migration of Courbet to Switzerland.

On Children

To express the help & support that children need, Degaffe organized in 2006 the art exhibition ‘Cherish their Dream’. Her poem accompanying her paintings highlighted that children’s dreams to pursue their professions become a reality if we give them the support they needed as they grow up. Among invited were children, journalists, artists, diplomats, & a representative from UNICEF.

Degaffe was among those artists that showed their works, with support from Embassies such as the State of Palestine (‘Give the Chance to Children’, 2006) & Japan (interpreting the works of Japanese painter that had lived in Kenya & Ethiopia). She taught art skills to children whose lives were touched by HIV/AIDS (HIWOT HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care & Support Organization, 2007)

Degaffe was among ten artists at the street art painting organized in Lausanne, (Flon, 2009) The paintings (10 x 10 ft canvas) helped raise funds to help children in the hospital.

In the project ‘a happy nation that nurtures kids’, Degaffe’s painting won Special Prize at the International Postage Stamp Design Contest (Republic of Korea, 2008)

Elementary school children visited Degaffe’s animal allegory paintings at a show in a cultural & social center (South France, 2014). She created children’s games (searching hidden messages in stuffed animals). The messages were inspirational quotes from great personalities & how to be strong intellectually, for example, if we go hungry, or are afraid, or miss the family, etc.