Home Is Where The Art Is: Yared Nigussu

From the first moment you meet Yared Nigussu, you feel the love for what he does; his passion for life and for art is palpable and it becomes the perfect introduction to the emotion you will find within his work.

Yared came to Vancouver to further his career a few years ago by way of France and Ethiopia; he chose the North American urban scene to call his home and inspiration in lieu of the formal traditions of the European art world. He craved the craziness that the underground art scenes of large cities like New York embraced; apparent in the stunning cityscapes he creates, Yared loves the city. He is inspired by the people and strives to give back through his art. Portraiture is also a strong focus for Yared, through which he finds an outlet to express not only beauty, but also social issues like money and immigration.

Always looking forward, Yared’s creative philosophy is about provoking appreciation for the beauty in the little things, and views this to be the only way to positively influence the bigger picture. “You must make space for positivity in order to be able to notice it,” he explains, and shares his day to day personal goals and reflections of, “What did I do beautiful today?”.

Yared is currently preparing for an exhibition this coming May at the Kurbatoff Gallery on South Granville; until then, you can find him in his studio at 2414 Main, or in one of the many inspirational cafés our creative community flocks to.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Yared Nigussu and I am a visual artist. I was born and raised in Ethiopia, earning my degree in art education in 2005. Later I received a scholarship to further my art training in France. After moving to Canada, my career became established and I began exhibiting both locally and internationally. I also won the Canadian Art Battle live competition three years running, from 2012 to 2014.

How did you get started in painting and what led you to where you are now?

Art was my one and the only dream since I was little. It came naturally; no one pushed me toward it or brought the idea of art to me, no one took me to the museum. Even when I was a very little I was attracted by the huge public art displays in the city where I grew up. Most of them were communist propaganda kind of paintings; at that time Ethiopia was a communist country and wherever you went you would see the Marxists and Leninist paintings or sculptures in the main squares. That was a huge influence in my artistic choice and, also, the life of an artists always seems charming and mysterious, so that was another reason for me to follow my path. 

Do you have a Vancouver muse? Or a favourite place in or around the city that inspires you?

I am quite new to Vancouver, but in this short time I have met a lot of very interesting people, one of whom being David Suzuki. He is not only a genius but also very kind person. He is my Vancouver muse!

Do you have any predictions for the future of your industry?

I am in a very good path of my career and this journey has brought an unstoppable happiness. I learn every single day from my art and that knowledge brings happiness in my life. So I will keep this journey going for as long as possible. Art is very important to life and I know the future will be really good if I just keep working, inspired by nature, and inspiring others in return.

Who is your idol or mentor?

I have been influenced by many young and contemporary artists. I like the work of Jenny Seville and Amedeo Modigliani.

Finish this sentence: my day is not complete without…

Laughing.

Is there a song or a musician that inspires you to create?

In my studio I like to listen to Tricky, Massive Attack and Thievery Corporation.

Douglas Coupland recently said “a city without strong consistent arts funding is basically a parking lot” when discussing Vancouver’s vast art community. How do you feel about this and how do you think Vancouver compares to other cities in Canada?

I agree with Douglas Coupland. Every city has to give attention for any kind of artistic activities and fund it’s artists to be more creative. Art is hope. Art is the way to show one’s civilization. It shows the collective thinking of the community; artists are the voice and we see the thinking out loud of the city through her art.

Do you have a favourite creative space?

Cafés are my favourite creative spaces. I am not saying the franchised versions, but the small very personalized cafés of the town. There is always some sort of beauty in the café. That’s where ideas are born and I will run to my studio to work.

Artistically, what is your favourite part of the city?

I am fan of Main Street, especially the neighbourhood around Main and 8th where my studio is. Also Granville Island gives me a sense of calm and space to think.

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