Ficre Ghebreyesus “Gate to the Blue

Galerie Lelong

poster for Ficre Ghebreyesus “Gate to the Blue

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Galerie Lelong & Co. presents a solo exhibition of works by Ficre Ghebreyesus, the late artist’s first solo exhibition in New York City, and his first with the gallery. Gate to the Blue extends the previous online presentation to the physical gallery space and introduces new paintings, with a large majority of works presented to the public for the first time.

Ghebreyesus passed away unexpectedly at the age of fifty in 2012, leaving behind a visual narrative and language distinguishably his own. 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.

While Ghebreyesus is best known for the exuberance of color in his paintings, Gate to the Blue also highlights the artist’s darker-toned palette, suggesting the struggles he overcame in his life. Earth tones in deep greens, reds and browns are masterfully overlaid in Nkisi (c. 2011), which gets its title from the sacred nkisi of west-central African lore. Africans who were uprooted during the Atlantic slave-trade era carried knowledge of nkisi-making with them. In the painting, Ghebreyesus has depicted a red boat with small human figures journeying across a green sea as a larger figure looms in the background and gazes peacefully upon them. Readily incorporating references from various nations of the African continent and global cultures, Ghebreyesus’s work portrays a Pan-Africa that originates from his dreams and imagination, suggesting a yearning on his part as a member of the African diaspora.



from September 10, 2020 to October 24, 2020

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