Alexander Skunder Boghossian (b. Ethiopia, 1937 - 2003)
Homage to Abebe Bikila, 1984
Acrylicon canvas board
75.8 × 55.3 cm
Homage to Abebe Bikila was inspired by Bikila the legendary Ethiopian runner who triumphed at the 1960 Rome Olympics when he captivated a world audience by winning the Marathon, running barefoot.
Boghossian created this work eleven years after the runner’s early death, and at a time when Ethiopia was in the devastating grip of the Derg junta and in an era of widespread pessimism and despair about African politics and the future of the continent. In this work, with its emotionally powerful, luminous red background and strong primary colours, Boghossian deliberately reminds viewers of Bikila’s inspirational victory, drawing specific attention to the extraordinary achievements of this courageous man and to the unique human potential of a continent. The device of the scrolls in the work underline the indelible nature of Bikila’s contribution, and simultaneously his continent’s long, rich cultural history.