16 JUNE- 17 JULY 2021
London (London Bridge)
Exhausted faces, framed by bright orange life jackets, gaze out at the viewer, their eyes filled with emotion while other figures are huddled together in groups, their bodies wrapped in shimmering golden blankets as they watch distant boats on stormy seas. These poignant paintings are a continuation of Ethiopian artist Tewodros Hagos'series The Desperate Journey that aims to not only raise awareness of the global migrant crisis, but also address the dehumanising effect of journalistic imagery and footage. For his solo exhibition entitled The Desperate Journey II at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London Bridge, Hagos presents exquisite new works that elevate not just the tragedy of the situation, but also the emotional experience of each of his subjects.
The series initially began 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 images that we are fed by the media may provoke an immediate emotional response, they are often deliberately sensational in order to shock the viewer and over time, the bombardment of such imagery risks normalisation of what 'remains one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time.' 'People don't realise that the migrant crisis is ongoing. The media focus switches from one direction to another, and at the moment, it's on coronavirus, while here in Ethiopia and Africa more generally, millions of people continue to be displaced as a result of conflict,' says Hagos. Through the classical, static medium of painting, the artist invites a slower, deeper kind of contemplation that counters the fast-paced consumption of digital media.