top of page

Ermias Ekube: Memories are we are memories

Memories are we are memories delves into the profound influence of memory on both individual and collective identities. Using mirrors as a central motif, Ermias Ekube’s latest series, and first solo show in London, depicts domestic scenes and obscured figures, challenging us to confront the distortion inherent in reminiscence.

Against a backdrop of rigorously realistic homelife, it takes viewers a moment to notice the discrepancy between the ‘reality’ of a painting and what’s reflected in its mirror. Across more than a dozen works, parallels between mirrors and canvases – both hung on walls to be looked at, similar sizes and shapes – are reiterated; boundaries between art and life, dissolved.

There is a familial appeal to these tableaus – and in fact, many of the figures featured are members of the artist’s family. Yet any comfort conveyed by the series’ domestic settings is undercut by the disquieting inconsistencies revealed in their reflections: a hand holding a cafetiere appears in the mirror to be holding an espresso cup instead; an orange on a table vanishes in the mirror that should reflect it. 


Throughout Memories, Ekube elaborates on a tension between the expected and the presented: between reality and reflection. As we become accustomed to the series’ conceit, mirrors reflecting things that aren’t there, our focus is inevitably drawn to what they don’t reflect – that is, us, the viewers peering into them. But it is no coincidence that the mirrors in each work echo the shape and function of paintings themselves.

The exhibition coincides with the launch of a monograph about Ekube’s career, as well as a film about his practice, both supported by Almas Foundation, who will present a retrospective of his work at the Africa Centre later in the month.

Ed Cross Gallery, London until 29th June ‘24. Free entry.

Image: ERMIAS EKUBE, Memories are we are memories #40, 2024.

Courtesy of Ed Cross Gallery.



bottom of page