Monday, November 23, 2020

Eritrea: Painter Ficre Ghebreyesus spotlighting Eritrean Art

Connecticut (HAN) September 16. 2020. Public Diplomacy and Regional Stability Initiatives News. Monitoring Regional Issues.BY: Caroline Goldstein. As galleries and art institutions around the world begin to reopen, we are spotlighting individual shows—online and IRL—that are worth your attention.

Ficre Ghebreyesus: Gate to the Blue
through October 24, 2020 at Galerie LeLong

 

What the gallery says: “Borrowing the title from one of his works, “Gate to the Blue” suggests not only a color significant to Ghebreyesus, but also an opening to the boundless sea and sky, an entry point to the unknown, which was a constant in the artist’s life as a refugee who fled his native Eritrea to eventually settle in New Haven, Connecticut.

“The artist was highly influenced by music and was a lover of the blues genre that originated in the journey of enslaved people over water and is rooted in African musical traditions and spirituality.”

Why it’s worth a look: Within his New Haven community, Ficre Ghebreyesus was beloved as an adventurous chef and the co-owner of Caffé Adulis, and as a man with deep interests in poetry and music. A talented painter, he still had no aspirations to become the toast of Manhattan’s art world, and was content instead to work under the radar and share his work with those closest to him.

In 2012, Ghebryesus died unexpectedly at just 50 years old, leaving behind around 700 canvases. Since then, his wife, the poet and president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Elizabeth Alexander, has sought to share her late husband’s work with a wider audience, helping to arrange posthumous exhibitions of his work, eventually securing his estate’s representation with Galerie LeLong.

A refugee from Eritrea, Ghebreyesus made works shine with color, pattern, and forms that he kept in his recollections of his birthplace, as well as from his travels in Sudan, Italy, and Germany. Water is a recurring motif, as is a staccato checkerboard pattern of pink and red. His largest work, measuring 16 feet by 8 fee, is The Sardine Fisherman’s Funeral, a busy affair featuring cherubs with fish-scale wings, an oversized fish, and a host of attendants huddled together alongside a man holding a shovel, all on a flattened picture plane that recalls an early Renaissance painting.

bd8bf0f8d7cd3644618f74e76855e85b Eritrea: Painter Ficre Ghebreyesus spotlighting Eritrean Art
Ficre Ghebreyesus, The Sardine Fisherman’s Funeral, (2002). Courtesy of the Estate of Ficre Ghebreyesus and Galerie LeLong & Co.

 

GL 13877 Zememesh Berhes Magic Garden Eritrea: Painter Ficre Ghebreyesus spotlighting Eritrean Art
Ficre Ghebreyesus, Zememesh Berhe’s Magic Garden (ca. 2002). Courtesy of the Estate of Ficre Ghebreyesus and Galerie LeLong & Co.
GL 13754 Horizon with Interred Figures Eritrea: Painter Ficre Ghebreyesus spotlighting Eritrean Art
Ficre Ghebreyesus, Horizon with Interred Figures (ca. 2002-07). Courtesy of the Estate of Ficre Ghebreyesus and Galerie LeLong & Co.
GL 13830 Tis Time to Seek Asylum Eritrea: Painter Ficre Ghebreyesus spotlighting Eritrean Art
Ficre Ghebreyesus, Tis Time to Seek Asylum (ca. 2007-11). Courtesy of the Estate of Ficre Ghebreyesus and Galerie LeLong & Co.

GL 13519 Red Hats and Balloons 1024x694 1 Eritrea: Painter Ficre Ghebreyesus spotlighting Eritrean Art
GL 13750 Untitled 1024x815 1 Eritrea: Painter Ficre Ghebreyesus spotlighting Eritrean Art
GL 13650 La Amistad 1024x814 1 Eritrea: Painter Ficre Ghebreyesus spotlighting Eritrean Art
GL 13617 1024x798 1 Eritrea: Painter Ficre Ghebreyesus spotlighting Eritrean Art
GL 13495 Seated Musician with Feathered Wing framed 1009x1024 1 Eritrea: Painter Ficre Ghebreyesus spotlighting Eritrean Art
GL 13425 Mangia Libro Eritrea: Painter Ficre Ghebreyesus spotlighting Eritrean Art
GL 14135 Boat at Night 1024x815 1 Eritrea: Painter Ficre Ghebreyesus spotlighting Eritrean Art
GL 13397 Gate to the Compound 1015x1024 1 Eritrea: Painter Ficre Ghebreyesus spotlighting Eritrean Art
GL 13646 Boat 1024x796 1 Eritrea: Painter Ficre Ghebreyesus spotlighting Eritrean Art

 

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