Saatchi Yates

Tesfaye Urgessa

Born in 1983, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Tesfaye Urgessa was born in 1983 and lives and works in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Urgessa studied under modern master Tadesse Mesfin in Ethiopia, and later graduated from the Staatlichen Akademie in Stuttgart. Through these experiences, Urgessa was able to connect Ethiopian iconography and a deep fascination with traditional figurative painting to create a unique and striking language. His classical figurations with their writhing bodies create distorted psychological tension hidden in domestic settings. Urgessa’s subject matter recalls intertwined representations of race and the politics of identity. His series “No Country For Young Men” squeezes queues of refugees into the space of a 180cm by 180cm canvas. Among his most celebrated exhibitions are Oltre/Beyond at The Uffizi Gallerie in Florence in 2018, which also hosts his work in its permanent collection, and Von Denen Die Auszogen at State Galerie Villa Streccius, in Landau, Germany, in 2019. Works by the artist are also held in the Zabludowicz Collection in London, England, the Kunstmuseum in Stuttgart, Germany and the Rubell Museum in Miami, USA.

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