Tesfaye Urgessa b. 1983

Tesfaye Urgessa (b. 1983) lives and works in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He studied under Tadesse Mesfin at the Addis Ababa University Alle School of Fine Art before enrolling at the Staatlichen Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Stuttgart in 2009. 


Urgessa's work is deeply rooted in his childhood and his memories as a young man in Ethiopia, and Ethiopian iconography is one of the foundational elements of his artistic practice. Over the course of his travels in Europe, the discovery of the heritage of German Neo-Expressionism and the London School had a profound influence on his painterly style. Urgessa’s artistic subject matter focuses on social criticism, race, and the politics of identity.


Urgessa’s work has been included in numerous group and solo exhibitions including Oltre/Beyond at Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy (2018); The Stand-Ins: Figurative Painting from the Collection, Zabludowicz Collection, London, England (2021); The New African Portraiture, Kunsthalle Krems, Krems, Austria (2022); Tesfaye Urgessa, Rubell Museum Miami, Miami, United States of America (2022); Tense Conditions: A Presentation of Contemporary African Art, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany.

Urgessa's work is held in the permanent collections of Zabludowicz Collection, London, England; Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy; Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy; Kunstmuseum, Stuttgart, Germany; Rubell Museum, Miami, United States of America; Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany; The Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden, Marrakech, Morocco. Tesfaye Urgessa has been chosen to represent Ethiopia at the 60th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia.