This summer, Saatchi Yates are pleased to present a solo exhibition of new paintings by Tesfaye Urgessa. The artist lives and works in Germany, having emigrated from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His work is deeply rooted in Ethiopian iconography, which is one of the binding elements of his artistic production. In his own words, the experience is like ‘always having an Ethiopian accent, no matter what language I’m speaking’. Having studied under renowned Ethiopian artist Tadesse Mesfin, at the Alle School of Fine Art and Design, Ethiopia in 2006, he later moved to Germany to study at Staalichen Akademie der Bildenken Künste, Stuttgart under prof. Cordula Gud̈ ermann in 2014. Here is where he encountered the heritage of German Neo-Expressionism and the London School of Painters, which he would incorporate in his imagery.
Urgessa’s unique intertwined subject matter, recall representations of race and the politics of identity. His subjects’ limbs almost look translucent, revealing hidden veined pulses, and rhythmic patchworking of tendons and colour.
In 2018 Tesfaye Urgessa was the subject of a solo exhibition at Le Gallerie Degli Uffizi, Florence, the first living artist to be exhibited. His work was later acquired to remain with the museum’s permanent collection. More recently, Urgessa exhibited at Städtische Galerie Villa Streccius, Landau in 2019.