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Ethiopian visual artist, Tesfaye Urgessa, will represent Ethiopia for it inaugural participation at the 60th Venice Biennale


Ethiopia will make its debut appearance at the prestigious 2024 Venice Biennale, with Tesfaye Urgessa selected as the representative artist. Urgessa is widely acclaimed for his evocative paintings featuring human figures within everyday domestic scenes. This marks a historic moment for Urgessa as an artist and signifies a notable stride for Ethiopia's recognition and participation on the international art platform.


Tesfaye Urgessa. Photo: Photography by Kameron Cooper. Courtesy Tesfaye Urgessa and Saatchi Yates
Tesfaye Urgessa. Photo: Photography by Kameron Cooper. Courtesy Tesfaye Urgessa and Saatchi Yates

Born in 1983 in Addis Ababa, Tesfaye Urgessa embarked on his artistic journey at the Ale School of Art and Design at Addis Ababa University, studying under the tutelage of esteemed artist Tadesse Mesfin. Continuing his education at the Staatlichen Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart, Urgessa was exposed to the rich heritage of German Neo-Expressionism and the influential techniques of the London School of Painters.


Urgessa's artistic style is characterized by a unique fusion of Ethiopian iconography and a deep-seated interest in traditional figurative painting. Through his work, he delves into complex themes surrounding race and identity politics, often depicted within intimate domestic settings.



Tesfaye Urgessa x Saatchi Yates,  ‘The Heart Wants What The Heart Wants’, Oil On Canvas, 169.9cm x 149.9 cm-.
Tesfaye Urgessa x Saatchi Yates, ‘The Heart Wants What The Heart Wants’, Oil On Canvas, 169.9cm x 149.9 cm-.


Urgessa's rise to international recognition has been punctuated by significant exhibitions, such as "Tesfaye Urgessa in Miami" at Saatchi Yates during Miami Art Week 2022, and "No Country for Young Men" held at Addis Fine Art in Addis Ababa in 2019. His artistic talent earned him a place in The Artsy Vanguard 2023–2024, further solidifying his standing in the global art scene.


The upcoming 60th Venice Biennale, scheduled to run from April 20th to November 24th, 2024, will be curated by Adriano Pedrosa, adopting the theme "Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere." Other African nations, including those of Canada, Benin, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Great Britain, Nigeria, Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, and Tanzania, have already announced their intention to showcase African and diasporic perspectives.


 

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Ethiopian visual artist, Tesfaye Urgessa, will represent Ethiopia for it inaugural participation at the 60th Venice Biennale

February 15, 2024

Art Report Africa

2 min read