Painter of the Invisible: Daniela Yohannes

Painter of the Invisible: Daniela Yohannes

Daniela Yohannes (b.1982) is an Eritrean/Ethiopian artist who lives and works in Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean. Her practice combines painting, collage and illustration techniques. Yohannes is an emerging artist whose work resonates with her acute cultural sensitivity to the often unseen dimensions of life. Yohannes currently lives and works from her studio in Paris.

Through abstract portraiture and storytelling across multiple media, Yohannes explores the overlap of individual and collective subconscious and desire, and the destruction caused by displacement. Her work dwells on alternative Black realities, considering the bonds between herself, her family and other communities through magical symbolism.

While her early collages and paintings of mystic figures were situated in dream spaces, a recent move into film has seen Yohannes anchor themes in the tensions of her real world surroundings. Guadeloupe’s terrain has so far provided rich means to consider her body and consciousness, the survival stories of displaced people, and atopia, the inhospitable environment where society cannot be built.

 Yohannes’s current work embraces this newfound physicality further in its attempt to link her with the lives and geographies of others. By embracing forms of hybridity and considering the artefacts of diaspora as a means of travel in themselves, she has built a dedicated interdimensional machine from emotionally charged objects. Arranged within a shed in her garden, this ‘ship’ is now ready for use and the beginning of a new body of work.

My work explores themes of new myth, the dream world, the supernatural and the cosmos. I’m inquiring into the unknown, making the characters in my paintings confront the void, and enter it. I rely on my intuition and dreams as a direct source of storytelling.

My paintings allow me to explore fictional narratives, enabling me to remove all concrete limitation and boundaries. I paint characters that are facets of myself, but not earthbound. In this way I truly liberate myself from social constructs. I am drawn to the threshold between life and death and my paintings often project this great duality.