Nigatu Tsehay’s work portrays lived experience through depictions of distorted bodies in collage and embedded within various compositions combining body parts and still life. Tsehay explores the nearness or closeness of the ways in which human beings relate with one another and how each individual appears to exist through reflection, by association with others and through objects that come to symbolize or signify various sentiments depending on our shared stories and histories.
Tsehay explains that his inspiration comes from growing up in Addis Ababa as well as his current experience living and working in Europe. He fuses the different cultures he knows and encounters to reproduce what he calls “the indefinable behavioral nature of mankind, associated with the advancement of technological triumph combined in surreal compositions.” Instead of symbolizing or representing a single topic, the artist’s works reflect different ideas together by utilizing phenomena, which he has observed in his surroundings. Nigatu Tsehay works primarily in oil or acrylic on canvas and the human figure is a significant form in his work which he uses as a means to transfer his sentiment and ideas.
Tsehay was born and raised in Addis Ababa and started to learn drawing and sketching through mentorship by artist Tesfaye Nigatu who was a private art teacher at the Medhanialem (Medesh) Art Center in Addis Ababa. In 2005, Tsehay received a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education from the Addis Ababa University School of Fine Arts where he later taught as an Assistant Lecturer from 2005 to 2008. He received a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in 2008 and the Camillo Michele Gloria sponsorship price for young artists by the Gasversorgung Süddeutschland (GVS) in 2009. From 2010 to 2012, Nigatu Tsehay received a sponsorship from the Catholic Academic Foreign National Service (KAAD) to study in Germany. He completed his studies with a Diploma in Fine Arts from the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart where he was in the class of Prof. Cordula Güdemann. Nigatu Tsehay lives and works in Frankfurt