East Africa

Capturing the Vibrant Pulse of Africa: Girma Berta’s ‘Motion’ Series at Photo London Art Fair

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Graphic designers and digital artists are thriving in the current artistic renaissance. They benefit from various art platforms that enable the monetization of digital art. In fact, digital artists now participate in major art fairs, such as the ongoing Photo London art fair. This article will spotlight a talented graphic designer and photographer showcasing their work at the Photo London art fair.

“My approach to photography was psychological and philosophical. It was a journey inside; it was not depicting what everybody sees in front of them. Having that background, AI fascinated me- Boris Eldgasen in an interview with The Guardian.

Streets of Bamako, Mali- Girma Berta. Photograph: Fujiflex print, 100cm by 70 cm. Image courtesy of Artsy

Just like Boris Eldgasen, Girma takes a philosophical approach to his work. By combining graphic design and photography, he skillfully captures the subconscious emotions of his muse. Berta’s art tells visual tales that elevate African communities in the global art movement. Girma illuminates everyday struggles, where lives become statistics. His unique, accessible art is showcased on social media.

In his latest series titled “Motion,” Girma Berta showcases the vibrancy and liveliness of the African continent. With a distinct artistic vision, he brings forth the energy and vitality that define the essence of Africa. Through a mesmerizing spun effect, Girma captures his subjects in a way that exudes electrifying dynamism. Each photograph in the series encapsulates the essence of movement as if freezing a moment in time where energy is palpable. The spun effect adds an extra layer of dynamism, making the subjects come alive with a sense of motion. It is through this artistic technique that Girma manages to convey the pulsating heartbeat of Africa.

Girma Berta. Streets of Yirga Chefe, Southern Ethiopia, 2022. Photograph : Fujiflex print
100 × 70 cm. Image courtesy of Artsy.

As you delve into “Motion,” you are immediately immersed in a whirlwind of captivating imagery. The spinning effect creates a sense of movement and vitality, as if the subjects are in constant motion, pulsating with life. The colors blend and blur, adding an element of chaos that beautifully reflects the energetic nature of Africa. This series is currently being showcased at the Photolondonart Fair this week.

The “Motion Series” demonstrates Girma Berta’s distinctive approach to capturing the essence of motion and vitality within African communities. Through his artistic vision, he utilizes a spun effect that adds an electrifying dynamism to his subjects, as seen in his works from the streets of Marrakech, Morocco; Jinja, Uganda; Bamako, Mali; and Yirga Chefe, Southern Ethiopia.

Girma Berta- Streets of Bamako, Mali, 2022. Photograph: Fujiflex print, 100 by 70 cm
Image courtesy of Artsy.

The choice of these locations highlights Berta’s exploration of diverse African cultures and urban environments. Each photograph encapsulates a specific moment in time, showcasing the energy and liveliness present within these vibrant cityscapes. The use of the spun effect amplifies the sense of movement and emphasizes the pulsating rhythm of life in these locations.

At just 26 years old, Berta, an accomplished graphic designer, and photographer, has received widespread acclaim for his compelling portraits depicting the lives of ordinary working-class individuals in Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa. His unique artistic technique involves extracting cutouts from street photographs and skillfully manipulating them, juxtaposing them against digitally created backgrounds.

Streets of Marrakech, Morocco_2 (Small format), 2023. Photograph Fujiflex print, 100 by 70 cm
Image courtesy of Artsy.

What sets Berta’s imagery apart is its ability to freeze moments, capturing marginalized individuals in vivid technicolor, all in his distinct style. He believes that “the best camera is the one that’s always with you,” and his phone’s discreet and innocuous nature has allowed him to explore this hidden talent. Berta acknowledges that many Ethiopians have a cultural aversion towards photography, perceiving it as exploitative. However, he believes that a picture that goes unseen is lifeless. Moreover, he currently works on a book that delves deeper into his definitive style of work while he explores lesser-known parts of Ethiopia. His work will be showcased at the Photo London event in 2023.


Rose Mwikali Musyoki is a creative writer from Nairobi, Kenya. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Business and Finance from the University of Embu, Kenya, and is the founder of Bloom Inc, an art startup in Kenya. Currently, she works as a writer for Art News Africa.

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