The cleric Gedewon, born in the province of Bagemdir, Ethiopia, led a nomadic life until he settled in Addis Ababa, the country's capitol. Versed in the art of qené, (rhetorical poetry), as well as esoteric sciences, including herbal healing, and ancient languages, he was a gifted man. Aggressive and combative, this temperament suited his role as a conduit for banishing evil spirits. His talismans are remarkable, speaking both of sacred knowledge/cosmology and his unique visionary world view It is only in his talismans that the topography of Ethiopia is incorporated into his design, made with Gedewon's own technique of colored ink drawing on industrial made paper.
These talismans are perceived by Ethiopians as beyond the
flat and static. Multidimensional, they are dynamic creations with spatial and
directional attributes. Bad spirits inhabiting the patient gaze upon the talisman
through the eyes of that individual. They begin a battle with the positive forces--
angels, incantations and numerology among them-- of the talisman. Entering and
exiting through openings in the maze-like drawing, they eventually get trapped
and destroyed by the patterns and words. Recognized as extraordinary works in
Ethiopia and by whoever sees them, they are both engaging art and powerful medicine.