Tesfaye Urgessa

Tesfaye Urgessa 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.


The artist’s paintings hold a variety and multitude of iconographical elements of which the precise origin remains unknown. The bodies in his works are rendered with the intensity of his unmistakable style, creating perfectly balanced spaces of softness and hardness full of iconographical elements of which the precise origin remains unknown.


Tesfaye Urgessa (b. 1983 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) 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.






2022 / Rubell Museum, Miami

2022 / Tesfaye Urgessa, Saatchi Yates, Miami

2022 / Tesfaye Urgessa, Saatchi Yates, London

2021 / Sleepy Baby Bird, Newchild, Antwerp

2021 / Tesfaye Urgessa, Saatchi Yates, London



2023 / Snakes in the Grass, Newchild, Antwerp

2023 / Tense Conditions: A Presentation of Contemporary African Art, Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart

2022 / Art Antwerp, Newchild, Antwerp

2022 / The New African Portraiture, Kunsthalle Krems, Krems

2021 / The Stand-Ins: Figurative Painting from the Collection, Zabludowicz Collection, London

2021 / From Modern To Contemporary, CFHILL, Stockohlm

2021 / Addis Calling: Vortic Edition, Addis Fine Art, Ethiopia

2020 / Ma Was Heavy, Newchild, Antwerp