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Ficre Ghebreyesus populated his works with intricate, highly personal experiences as a citizen of the world. Born in Eritrea during its War of Independence (1961–1991), he left as a teenaged refugee to Sudan, Italy, and Germany, before finally settling in the United States where he received an MFA from the Yale School of Art, and was awarded the Carol Schlossberg Prize for Excellence in Painting at graduation. Ghebreyesus continued his lifelong activism for Eritrean independence alongside studying painting, printmaking, several languages, and working as the executive chef and co-owner of New Haven’s Caffé Adulis. Operating fluidly between abstraction and figuration, Ghebreyesus’s matte acrylic and oil paintings suggest the non-linear form of dreams, memories, and storytelling. Landscapes flow seamlessly into sea and skyscapes, teeming with biodiversity, while boat hulls and angels’s wings are fashioned from colorful geometric shapes echoing Eritrean textiles. In a style distinguishably his own, Ghebreyesus embraces the complexity of his personal history built upon an evolving understanding of identity and home.

While Ghebreyesus turned down most opportunities to show during his short lifetime, posthumous solo institutional exhibitions of his work include Ficre Ghebreyesus: City with a River Running Through at the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, California and

POLYCHROMASIA: Selected Paintings by Ficre Ghebreyesus at Artspace, New Haven, Connecticut. Galerie Lelong began representing the Estate in 2019 and held the solo exhibition Ficre Ghebreyesus: Gate to the Blue in 2020. In 2022, Ghebreyesus’s work was showcased in the 59th Venice Biennale, The Milk of Dreams. His work has also been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Illinois and California African American Museum, Los Angeles, California. Works by Ghebreyesus can also be found in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California; Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland; Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; Pérez Art Museum Miami, Florida; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, New York; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut; New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana; Rollins Museum of Art, Winter Park, Florida and the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Writer and poet Elizabeth Alexander’s memoir, The Light of the World (2015), chronicles her husband Ghebreyesus’s life and work.

Ficre Ghebreyesus was born in Asmara, Eritrea, in 1962, and died in New Haven, Connecticut, in 2012.

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