ELIAS SIME (B. 1968)
signed with a pressed bottle cap (lower right)
hand-stitched cotton, dyed cloth and aluminium bottle cap on canvas
37 1/8 x 61in. (94.5 x 155cm.)
Executed circa 2000s
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 2008.

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Lot Essay

Elias Sime deftly weaves, stitches, and assembles quotidian materials, transforming commonplace items into lyrical compositions of figure and landscape. Sime references and draws upon the craft traditions of weaving and braiding, and integrates them into his wholly contemporary approach. His intricate works often incorporate electronic components such as circuit boards, computer keys, and telecommunications wires, sourced from the largest open-air market in Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They suggest the invisible infrastructure of our current globalised world, alluding to frictions between tradition and progress, human contact and social networks, nature and the artificial, and reality and the virtual.
Sime has a masterful handling of material which he has sought to better understand through cultural and historic underpinnings, often traveling with the anthropologist Meskerem Assegued through rural villages in Ethiopia to research ancient rituals still in practice. Sime collects histories and vernacular techniques as much as objects.
In Untitled, lot 102, we see bold landscape, a radiant sun shines over a patterned landscape of vibrant hues. The movement created through the intricate stitches of the sky adds to the lyrical atmosphere of the scene.
In Halafinet 2, a small child is depicted being carried on the back of a family member. The intricate stitches create movement that heightens a discrepancy between the vibrant figures in the foreground and the grey background.
In Untitled, lot 117, women with their backs to the viewer dressed in traditional garments gaze at a sky created out of buttons woven into the fabric.
Elias Sime co-founded the Zoma Museum in Addis Ababa in 2019. He is responsible for much of the museum’s design, which merges sustainability, art and traditional techniques. Sime’s work has been shown internationally at the 2022 Venice Biennale, Venice; the 2004 Dak’Art Biennale of Contemporary African Art in Dakar; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Studio Museum in Harlem among other institutions. In 2019, Sime received an African Art Award from the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, and he was shortlisted for the Hugo Boss Prize 2020. Sime’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art, Orlando; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk; Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan; Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel; Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami, Florida; and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, Utah, among others.

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