This summer, Saatchi Yates are pleased to present a solo show of new paintings by Tesfaye Urgessa. The artist lives and works in Germany, having emigrated from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He 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, German Neo-expressionism from the 1980s and a deep fascination with traditional figurative painting to create a unique and striking language. The classical figurations with their writhing bodies create distorted psychological tension hidden in domestic settings, and the subject matter recalls intertwined representations of race and the politics of identity to create a narrative that runs through his practise. His recent 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.
Urgessa comments “If one recognizes himself or herself in my figures as I recognise myself in them, they will definitely recognise themselves in me.”
About Tesfaye Urgessa (b. 1983, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
Eithopian artist Tesfaye Urgessa’s studied at the Alle School of Fine Art and Design, Eithiopia, in 2006, and graduated with merits at Staalichen Akademie der Bildenken Künste, Stuttgart, under Prof. Cordula Güdermann. In 2014 Urgessa won the Prize of the State Academy of Stuttgart, Germany and in 2010 he won the Camillo-Michele-Gloria-Preis, GasVersorgung Süddeutschland, Germany. Selected most recent exhibitions include: (2019) Ch Halte Dich Esthalten, Schacher – Raum für Kunst, Stuttgart, Germany. Von denen die auszogen, State Galerie Villa, Streccius, Landau, Germany. Atemzug, Galerie Tobias Schrade, Ulm. (2018), Oltre/Beyond, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, No Country for Young Men, Galerieverein Leonberg, Leonberg. (2017) Auszeit, Galerieverein Wendlingen, Wendlingen. (2016) Fremdkörper, Schacher – Raum für Kunst, Stuttgart. Eithiopia Today, Kunstation Kleinassen, Hofbieber-Kleinassen, Germany. (2015) Free Fall, Galerie Evelyn Drewes, Hamburg. Body and Soul, Sympra GmbH, Stuttgart.