Bucking the apparent trend of galleries giving up physical premises during the pandemic, the Ethiopia-born gallery Addis Fine Art is opening its first permanent London gallery this October.
The split-level, 2,000 sq. ft space on Eastcastle Street, in the heart of Fitzrovia’s gallery district, will open with a show of works by Nirit Takele, an artist who was born in Ethiopia in 1985 but moved to Israel in 1991 as part of Operation Solomon that saw more than 14,000 Ethiopian Jews evacuated.
“What I realised was that the best strategy for us is to have a grounded place in London where we can have eight or ten shows a year and also continue growing our digital sales, because they have been an absolute lifeline and been where we’ve discovered a lot of our new clients in this time,” says Rakeb Sile, who co-founded Addis Fine Art in 2016 with Mesai Haileleul. The gallery is a member of London’s Cromwell Place and had been hiring space for occasional exhibitions, but for ten shows a year it makes financial sense to take a permanent gallery, Sile says.
Since the start of the pandemic, Addis Fine Art has done “pretty much any online viewing room that was available to us, including Vortic, South South, Frieze New York and Art Basel,” Sile says. These digital innovations “allowed us to really grow our reach without all of that travelling around… it’s much better from the perspective of the environment and our cost base.”