Here, we ask an artist to frame the essential details behind one of their latest works.
Bio: Tesfaye Urgessa, 39, Addis Ababa (@tesfayeurgessa)
Title of work: Singing Redemption Song (2022).
Where to see it: Saatchi Yates (35 NE 40th St, Miami) until Dec. 20.
Three words to describe it: Singing, redemption, song.
What was on your mind at the time: This is the first painting I made after moving back to Ethiopia. I found a country divided by the war and I wanted to make a statement, to find something that brings people together. I was listening to Redemption Song, wishing that people could come together in peace, unite, to sing like a choir, almost as a religious experience.
An interesting feature that’s not immediately noticeable: One day while I was painting this picture, my daughter had a fever with a very high temperature. On that day I decided to paint the central figure of the work, the couple’s son, with a bright red forehead. I wanted to incorporate an element from my own life on that day to the painting.
How it reflects your practice as a whole: I am a figurative painter. I love painting the human body. The composition is important to me but the central component of my work is always the figure.
One song that captures its essence: Redemption Song by Bob Marley.