City of Greater Dandenong

The newest public art in Dandenong’s Settlers Square foreshadows the next exhibition at Walker Street Gallery and Arts Centre.

Created by Melbourne based Ethiopian-Norwegian artist Olana Janfa, Too Much Drama combines the artist’s trademark wry political commentary and light-hearted humour. Olana’s unique style is inspired by the traditional Ethiopian Orthodox art of his childhood and charts the realities and ironies of contemporary immigrant life, raising the question: what makes us call a place home?

While the gallery exhibition does not open until July, Olana has already found a street canvas in Dandenong’s Settlers Square, transforming the space with his new work titled Harmony, which sees a series of charismatic characters appearing in the artist’s signature bold palette. Extending across the square’s seating, electricity boxes and light pole, the artwork has re-invigorated the space, transforming it into an active public meeting and event space for all users, creating a vibrant, attractive and safe link through this busy precinct. The artwork explores themes of inclusivity and harmony with its use of colour, bold illustration and patterns, inviting passers-by to pause, observe and stay.

A self-taught artist who first started painting in 2018, Olana says he uses art to connect to his culture and communicate his ideas and experiences. “Painting is how I express my identity and what’s important to me, including the things I find funny” he explains.

Olana Janfa: Too Much Drama is the 2024 iteration of HOME, Greater Dandenong Council’s longstanding program of exhibitions featuring artists from a refugee and asylum seeker background. It will be exhibited at the Walker Street Gallery and Arts Centre from 2 July to 6 September with a range of public programs starting from June.

The official opening event for Olana Janfa: Too Much Drama will take place on Saturday 29 June, from 6pm-10pm, commencing at Settlers Square before moving across to Walker Street Gallery and Arts Centre.

/Public Release.