Ethiopian artist Ephrem Solomon and USA-born Florine Demosthene are having simultaneous solo exhibitions at London’s Kristin Hjellegjerde. Both artists comment on sociopolitics using fictional characters and both place the human at the centre of their work. But, while Solomon is showing his most colourful work to date, Demosthene plays with a disarmingly pastel palette.

Solomon’s LIFE VS TIME includes a selection of the artist’s signature wood carvings which explore the effects of ethnicity, religion and class on an individual’s life path. Although his past work has consisted of many monochrome carvings to juxtapose reality and fiction, this exhibition is loaded with colour–graphic red, yellow and blue serving as a backdrop for naturally toned subjects. The dark grooves in the wood carvings form black bags under the characters’ eyes and deep smile lines, suggesting at people who have a history, and a story to tell.

Demosthene’s work focuses on a black, female subject, to tell alternative narratives of women of colour and shut down the over-sexualised stereotypes that can arise around this specific demographic. Her drawings and paintings are striking, with a delicate, pastel palette and a direct look at the female form. ‘By delving into the subconscious mind of a fictitious black heroine and the ephemeral quality of her thoughts and experiences,’ the artist has said, ‘these are an attempt to structure a new mythology that explores black female sexuality and sensuality.’

‘Ephrem Solomon: Life vs Time’ and ‘Florine Demosthene’ are showing at Kristin Hjellegjerde until 30 April

Installation view Ephrem Solomon
Installation view Ephrem Solomon
Installation view Ephrem Solomon
Installation view Florine Demosthene
Installation view Florine Demosthene