“People don’t realize that the migrant crisis is ongoing. The media focus switches from one direction to another, while here in Ethiopia and Africa more generally, millions of people continue to be displaced as a result of conflict.” - Tewodros Hagos

Tewodros Hagos’ (b. 1974, Ethiopia) striking portraiture explores the way we’ve become desensitised to depictions of migrants’ suffering. The artist uses the classical medium of painting to challenge us to look deeply into the faces of individuals affected by this ongoing humanitarian crisis. Hagos’ moving portraits look back at us, appealing to our shared sense of humanity.


With the palpable sense of isolation and displacement that permeates the poignant paintings of Hagos, they resonate deeply with the theme of our exhibition UNSETTLED, which includes five new works of the ongoing series “The Desperate Journey”. This series initially started as a response to the artist’s increasing realisation of the ineffectiveness of news stories and imagery to convey lived experience or complex truths. While many of the pictures shown by the media may provoke an immediate emotional response, they are often deliberately sensational in order to shock the viewer and over time the overload of such imagery risks normalisation of this tragedy.