Tesfaye Urgessa will represent Ethiopia at the 2024 Venice Biennale.

Tesfaye Urgessa has been selected to represent Ethiopia at the 2024 Venice Biennale, the first time that the nation will be participating with a national pavilion at the event. The exhibition, which is curated by Lemn Sissay OBE, will take place at the 13th-century Palazzo Bolani.

In recent years, Urgessa has gained international recognition, presenting “Tesfaye Urgessa in Miami” with Saatchi Yates in 2022 for Miami Art Week and “No Country for Young Men” in 2019 for Addis Fine Art in Addis Abba. This past November, Urgessa was also selected to be featured in the The Artsy Vanguard 2023–2024.

Born in 1983, Urgessa is known for his paintings that depict human bodies in the center of domestic scenes. His subjects, often stoic and muscular, staring the viewer directly in the eye, are exposed and vulnerable. Balancing gestural form with a sharp color palette, his paintings reflect on his personal experience with racism once he moved from Ethiopia to Germany. “Representing Ethiopia for the first time, this is really amazing,” the artist said in an interview with Artsy.

After earning his degree from the Ale School of Fine Art and Design in Addis Ababa in 2002, Urgessa took his talents to Germany in 2009, where he enrolled in the Master’s program at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart. He currently lives and works in Addis Ababa.

Correction: Tesfaye Urgessa moved from Nürtingen, Germany to Addis Ababa. The article has been updated to reflect that.

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