September 10 – October 17, 2015
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 10, 6 – 8 PM
James Cohan Gallery is pleased to present the Ethiopian artist Elias Sime in his New York debut exhibition open September 10 through October 17, 2015.
Elias Sime is a collector of thread, buttons, plastic, animal skins, horn, fabric, bottle tops, and electric parts. From these objects he creates expansive collages and sculpture, with much of the material coming from the Addis Ababa open-air market, the Merkato, specifically the Menalesh Tera section—translated as “what do you have?”
Sime is also a collector of histories and vernacular techniques. The methods employed in the stitched canvases and computer-part collages that will comprise his exhibition, range from assemblage to traditional Ethiopian braiding.
Sime’s most recent works from the series Tightrope are made from the cast-off innards of computers and machines. Braided wires form tight networks of colorful patterns and dismembered motherboards appear as cityscapes viewed from above. While the parts are formally striking, they also speak to the cost of “progress.” Discarded at the Merkato, the lead-ridden, often toxic materials attest to the pace of disposal as well as the danger posed to countries like Ethiopia, which often absorb the refuse of the first world.
In works on dyed canvas from Sime’s What is Love and Ants and Ceramicists series, stitched yarn coalesces into sweeping abstract forms and shifting color fields. While largely nonrepresentational, the compositions snap into narrative focus with the presence of small insects, often ants or a dung beetles, swept up in the fiber pixels of the hand-stitched yarn. More minimal works become a universe unto themselves with Sime’s abstracted signature, a flattened bottle cap, forming a planet in the macrocosm of the picture plane.