Opening speech at an exibition

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook. Nonetheless he eventually finds refuge in a home and grows up to fall in love with the daughter in the new family Ruthand eventually emigrates to the U. The film takes us from Addis Ababa to Los Angeles, and shows the resilience of a young man overcoming various obstacles in life. He attended Texas Tech, studying computer graphics as well as human sciences and Family Studies.

Opening speech at an exibition

The work in this exhibition consists of six portraits of historical victims of political persecution and two large scale landscapes that deal more abstractly with political issues. I am especially pleased to acknowledge the extraordinary generosity of the artist, who has donated these works to Simon Fraser University.

Apart from their great artistic importance, of which I will say more momentarily, they connect to a strategic interest of the university in international and political studies, especially in the area of international justice and security.

Noel and I, and many friends in the room tonight, whose personal experience has been shaped by the experience of political tyranny and of exile, share, I think, a distinctive understanding of the terms memory, history and loss.

Our own personal histories are shaped by an official history which is much more contested, much more politically constructed, corrected and reconstructed, and therefore much more in doubt than the histories which inform the lives of many others. The particular unreliability of our history makes memory all that more important.

We have the most profound memories of political atrocity and horror, but over time those memories become plastic and changeable in the way of bad dreams.

And loss, of course, is fundamental to our experience: The psychological impact of this lack of historical certainty; corrosion of memory and sense of loss is magnified by the experience of immigration.

At one level, the loss for those raised in politically obscene regimes is made up by the exhilaration and liberation of exile.

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But exhilaration is confused by the ennui that results from no longer living intensely at the edge, where everything that happens and everything you do has important political significance. And the liberation of exile is confused by the oddly cramped sense of living in a new and disorienting environment, where you are not fully free to be, because you have lost a real identity and take on a new one with only marginal success; because your memories and history no longer apply.

This psychological confession is perhaps a bit bleak, with perhaps little relevance to Noel or others here. But it does inform my reaction to his work. For me, Noel Hodnett magnificently transcends in his art the political and personal contradictions that mark our experience.

He is able superbly to articulate what for most of us is inarticulate, sub-conscious, repressed, confusing and emotionally overwhelming. His portraits do this by dramatically reshaping memories of political martyrs, heroes and victims; by demanding attention to the violence and cruelty we have known, but too easily forget; by reminding us that while power has always shaped individual personalities by constraining instinct and desire, and while power has always shaped societies by obscuring and denying its origins in violence and theft; the harsh reality of the state must often be felt, even if only empathetically, as direct violence to the body and as human pain and suffering.

His landscapes equally articulate what too often we cannot articulate.

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They are often surreal, dreamscapes, threatening and forbidding, and filled with political symbol. As political as the portraits, these landscapes create discomfort and compel attention.

His painting involves a progression of erasure, over-painting, and survivals of earlier states beneath the final surface.

Opening speech at an exibition

Still, his very technique informs us of the central psychological experience of forgetting and remembering as constituting our images and history. I have seen recently a larger than life portrait by Hodnett, which is not of anyone in particular, but condenses memories and creates an attraction more satisfying and compelling than any portrait I have seen.

And just the other day I saw one of his most recent landscapes that I covet: It is probably not an historical account of either place, but a lucid memory of both. In any event, it is a wonderful celebration of the earth and of the possibilities of our ecstatic identity with it.

It demands that we think and that we grieve…lest we forget. Simon Fraser University is proud to be the permanent home of this great work, to honor a great artist, and to call attention to the important lessons he teaches.Antu Yacob.

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(Courtesy photo) Tadias Magazine By Tadias Staff. Updated: August 18th, New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian American Actor and Playwright Antu Yacob is featured in a new film Night Comes On that was released in select theaters across the U.S.

earlier this month on August 3rd and is now available on iTunes. Based on a true . Remarks at the Opening of an Exhibition of Paintings by NOEL HODNETT At the Teck Gallery, Simon Fraser University Vancouver It is a great pleasure to welcome friends of the artist and the university to this exhibition of a small sample of the great body of work by Noel Hodnett.

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