Tesfaye Urgessa

TESFAYE URGESSA (b.1983, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) is one of the most prominent contemporary diaspora Ethiopian artists. With an idiosyncratic style, and influenced by Ethiopian traditional iconography, German Neo-Expressionism and the School of London, Tesfaye’s works are architectural and powerful. Through a fascination with story-telling, his paintings always deliver a strong narrative, one that frequently focuses on social criticism and the politics of identity (such as the ongoing immigration crisis).The bodies in his works are rendered with the intensity of his unmistakable style, creating perfectly balanced spaces of softness and hardness. His seemingly chaotic and unrestrained compositions are dominated with characters in hushed and mature colours which often challenge the position of the viewer as the observer and thus in general the status quo.


Tesfaye Urgessa studied at the Alle School of Fine Art in Ethiopia and received an MA from the Staatlichen Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Stuttgart, Germany. He has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions in the UK, Germany and Ethiopia. His works are included in the public collections of the Museum Of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden in Marrakech (MACAAL); the Zabludowicz Collection in London; the Gallerie Degli Uffizi in Florence; the Kunstmuseum, Stuttgart, Germany, and the Rubell Museum in Miami, US. He lives and works in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.