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ADAA The Art Show

Booth A8

February 27 – March 1, 2020

Ficre Ghebreyesus Red Room, c. 2002-07 Acrylic on canvas 84 x 72 inches (213.4 x 182.9 cm) GL 13852
Ficre Ghebreyesus Seated Musician V, 2011 Acrylic on canvas 48 x 24 inches (121.9 x 61 cm) Framed: 50.5 x 26.5 x 2 inches (128.3 x 67.3 x 5.1 cm) GL13480
Ficre Ghebreyesus Gate to the Blue, c.2002-07 Acrylic on canvas 11 x 14 inches (27.9 x 35.6 cm) Framed: 13.5 x 16.5 x 1.5 inches (34.3 x 41.9 x 3.8 cm) GL13745
Ficre Ghebreyesus Figure with Trees and Horse Head, c. 2011 Acrylic on canvas Diptych; overall 48 x 48 inches (121.9 x 121.9 cm)
Ficre Ghebreyesus Solitary Boat, Aground, c. 2005-07 Acrylic on canvas 40.25 x 40.25 inches (102.2 x 102.2 cm) GL 13403

Press Release

Galerie Lelong & Co., New York, is pleased to newly represent the Estate of Ficre Ghebreyesus and will debut his work with a solo booth at The Art Show 2020. This will be the first time that Ghebreyesus’s work is publicly exhibited as a solo presentation in New York City. Following this presentation, the gallery will hold a solo exhibition of his works on April 23, 2020. Concurrently, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA), Ghebreyesus will be included in Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago from February 29 through May 10, 2020.

Occupying a dream-like space between abstraction and representation, Ghebreyesus’s alluring acrylic paintings demonstrate the range of cultural influences he encountered throughout his life. His works hold a myriad of diverse references: Coptic Christian iconography, Italian colonial and Islamic architecture, the alphabets of the seven languages he spoke well, jazz and the polyrhythms of the Black diaspora. Ghebreyesus was, in his own words, a “conscious synchretist” of culture.

Works on view include Ghebreyesus’s seminal painting Red Room (c. 2002-07), a vibrant still life enlivened by shifting shapes and color; collapsing background into foreground, interior and exterior. The work directly references sculptures from the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery, most notably the Yorùbá Equestrian Shrine Figure which Ghebreyesus transforms in his detailed rendition. While clearly inspired by his own life, the work also draws from art history, such as evoking the sensuous red color and patterned plant life that dominate Henri Matisse’s red paintings.

“Eight years after his untimely passing, it is joyful to be sharing my late husband's work with such a wide audience. Ficre saw New York as a city full of the energy, verve, complexity, and polyglot beauty of the entire world—metabolizing it all into his extraordinary vision. Our sons and I are rejoicing that the world will see the beauty and wonder that has been ours,” shares writer and poet Elizabeth Alexander.

Ficre Ghebreyesus was born in Asmara, Eritrea, in 1962 during the Eritrean War of Independence. After leaving his homeland at the age of sixteen as a refugee from this decades-long political conflict, he traveled through Sudan, Italy, and Germany, before arriving in the U.S. While working as an activist for Eritrean independence, he studied painting at the Art Students League and printmaking at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in New York. He eventually settled in New Haven, CT, with his wife and two sons and was executive chef and co-owner with his brothers of the popular Caffé Adulis. In 2002, he received his MFA from Yale University and was awarded the Carol Schlosberg Memorial Prize for Excellence in Painting at graduation. He died unexpectedly in 2012 at the age of fifty. While Ghebreyesus turned down most opportunities to show during his short lifetime, recent posthumous exhibitions of his work include Ficre Ghebreyesus: City with a River Running Through at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), San Francisco, California, 2018 and Ficre Ghebreyesus: Polychromasia at Artspace, New Haven, Connecticut, 2013. Lowery Stokes Sims, Co-Curator of his exhibition at MoAD and Curator Emerita for the Museum of Arts and Design, states, “Ghebreyesus’s paintings are infused with the urgency of cultural memory, national storytelling, and personal evocation.” Elizabeth Alexander’s widely lauded memoir, The Light of the World (2015), chronicles her husband Ghebreyesus’s life and work.

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