Apollo
40 Under 40 Africa

Rakeb Sile

28 September 2020

Co-founder and director, Addis Fine Art, Addis Ababa and London

In 2016, Rakeb Sile co-founded Addis Fine Art with Mesai Haileleul, creating the first white-cube gallery space for modern and contemporary art in Ethiopia. Since then, the business has grown to become one of the leading galleries in Africa, establishing a prominent international platform for artists from the Horn of Africa. Recent exhibitions in Addis Ababa have shone a spotlight on the young Ethiopian painter Selome Muleta – whose intimate works explore femininity and domestic spaces – and Adiskidan Ambaye, who makes undulating abstract sculptures in plywood.

With her background in management consulting, Sile was well placed to take charge of the gallery’s commercial operations; since 2016, it has opened a project space in London and participated in fairs in Africa and beyond, among them ART X Lagos, Frieze New York, Art Dubai and the Armory Show. In October, the gallery will move into expanded premises in London as one of the first members of the new gallery complex at Cromwell Place. There, its inaugural show is an ambitious retrospective of the work of Tadesse Mesfin, a major figure in Ethiopian modernist painting. It will be Mesfin’s first solo show in Europe – encapsulating Addis Fine Art’s commitment to heightened international exposure for, and critical reappraisal of, Ethiopian art on the world stage.

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