fbpx Biennale Arte 2022 | Ficre Ghebreyesus
La Biennale di Venezia

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Ficre Ghebreyesus

1962, Eritrea – 2012, USA

  • TUE - SUN
    23/04 > 25/09
    11 AM - 7 PM

    FRI - SAT UNTIL 25/09
    11 AM - 8 PM

    TUE - SUN
    27/09 > 27/11
    10 AM - 6 PM
  • Arsenale
  • Admission with ticket

At once pensive and exuberant, Ficre Ghebreyesus’ paintings capture the complexity of his East African childhood and life in diaspora, presenting fantastical landscapes drawn from longing for a time and place interrupted by conflict. Born to a Coptic Christian family in what was to become the capital city of Eritrea, Asmara, at the beginning of the country’s thirty-year-long War of Independence from Ethiopia (1961–1991), Ghebreyesus left home as a teenage refugee, eventually settling in New Haven, Connecticut. There, Ghebreyesus and his brothers opened a popular restaurant specialising in East African food; he devoted himself further to making art, eventually enrolling in the MFA program at Yale. When he died in 2012, most of his paintings had never been publicly displayed. In the large, unstretched canvas City with a River Running Through (2011), a cityscape of the modernist stucco-painted houses found throughout Asmara is constructed from a chequerboard of orange and peach forms that resemble traditional Eritrean basketry and embroidery. In Nude with Bottle Tree (c. 2011), a figure stands in a densely patterned landscape near a bottle tree, an ancient Kongolese custom of adorning tree branches with discarded vessels as a means for warding off evil spirits. On the right side of the canvas is another figure, reminiscent of Yoruba horse-and-rider sculptures, holding musical instruments. Together, they stand at a crossroad between worlds.

Madeline Weisburg

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Biennale Arte
Biennale Arte