Artist Abel Tilahun Gebretsadik was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1983 and grew up in an artistic environment. His mother trained professionally as a clarinetist and his engineer father enjoyed painting.  Tilahun also spent much of his childhood backstage at the Ethiopian National Theatre, absorbing set design, music, storytelling, and performance. He earned his BFA in Sculpture from Addis Ababa University’s Alle School of Fine Arts and Design in 2006. After moving to the United States, he earned his MA in Fine Art from Adams State University in 2010. He works across traditional and emerging art forms.


His first first solo show was in 2007, “The Blueprint” and Tilahun has since exhibited his work on three continents. He has held 2 subsequent solo shows including “Interface Effect,” (May–June 2014 in the Alliance Ethio-Francaise). Among other group exhibitions in which Tilahun participated; this show was curated by renowned independent curator Meskerem Assegued.  Tilahun’s work was also featured within the three-artist video art exhibition “Curvature of Events,” which was curated by Assegued in Dresden’s celebrated New Master’s Gallery at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections).


Along with his studio practice in Washington, D.C. and Addis Ababa, Tilahun also teaches at American University in Washington D.C. as an adjunct professor of digital imaging, motion graphics, and animation. Tilahun married scholar-filmmaker Isabelle Zaugg in 2007 and is the father of three children.


Abel Tilahun is an internationally acclaimed artist who works across traditional and emerging art forms.  At the heart of his work is a concern for both the cutting edge and the long arc of history. His artwork reveals these influences, as well as a fascination with cinema and the digital realm. He keeps an active studio practice in Washington, D.C. and in Addis Ababa. His work explores tensions associated with the interfaces between cultures, contexts and eras.


“Vital Signs” is a current exhibition of his work at The American University.

January 27 – March 11, 2018. The exhibition reflects the artist’s skill in sculptural installation, video art, painting, and drawing, linked by a common thread of semiotic concerns and an unwavering voice of his generation.