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Ficre's art bursts with life,
even after death

Some of us in New Haven knew of Ficre Ghebreyesus ’02MFA as the chef and co-owner (with brother Gideon) of Caffé Adulis, the late, lamented Eritrean restaurant on College Street. Gideon charmed the customers by visiting their tables; Ficre delighted us with the food, including his spicy lentil "Ficrachos" (Ficre's nachos).

Some knew of Ficre as the husand of Yale professor Elizabeth Alexander ’84, who gained fame as poet of President Barack Obama's first inauguration.

It turns out that Ghebreyesus—who died suddenly a year ago, at age 50—was also an extraordinary painter. A graduate of the Yale School of Art, he produced a "vast body of work" but never had a solo exhibition.

Until now. Downtown New Haven's Artspace gallery is hosting Ficre Ghebreyesus: Polychromasia through April 24, with an opening reception tonight from 5 to 7 pm. The show includes "an array of paintings, wall-sized murals, and personal artifacts, selected from the corpus of over 800 works left in Ficre's studio following his death," an Artspace press release says. "Ficre's work was simultaneously grounded in his life in America and his childhood in war-torn Eritrea; the unique perspective of his diasporic art can be found throughout his portraits, yoga series, and abstracted depictions of nature."

Alexander has organized an evening of poetry and music—featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning poets Yusef Komunyakaa and Tracy K. Smith—on April 19. Yale graduate student Key Jo Lee ’15 organized the exhibition and contributed to the catalog, along with art historians Robert F. "Master T" Thompson ’55, ’65PhD, and Anne Higonnet ’88PhD.

Filed under Ficre Ghebreyesus, Elizabeth Alexander, School of Artrt
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