The National Gallery of Arts opens its doors to Adrian Paci’s personal exhibition titled “Proof”, curated by Adam Budak. The exhibition will remain open from September 20th until December 1st 2019. The title of the exhibition is the same as its main purpose, a video which carries with it the pressing action of trying to make the necessary change that must take place within the social space. A series of portraits (common people), placed on a skeleton building frame, late at night, leaving room for one another, uttering the word “proof” from time to time, even though the outcome of this effort does not solely depend on their desire or good will. On the contrary, it is entirely dependent on comprehensive political and social conditions, which are constantly changing, and this change has been so profound for Albanian society since the fall of communism in 1991.
Expression through performance and video is a language that the artist uses predominantly, though, he has mastered all possible techniques during his professional experience (drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, mosaic, installation), and it seems to occupy a prime position in his creativity not only within the exhibition in question, but also outside it, as an expression of a narrow personal description on the subject of exodus, the constant change of social circumstances, globalization and the transformation of cultural identities as a consequence, but also of his (artist’s) inquiry into the depth and breadth of these social movements.
The characters of his works are people taken from daily life; they are unprofessional actors; they are women and men in difficult living and working conditions. Video footage “The column”, presents how the common man transforms the fragments of nature into art, how a fragment of a mountain is transformed into a traditional column, representing temples and simultaneously a reminder of power (the magnitude and magnificence of a column) and powerlessness (as it “travels” from the East (China) to the West (Europe)). The same is more or less the case with the work “Interregnum”, which represents ordinary people (strangers) in rituals of death across different social, economic and religious cultures united through the language of hysterical grief after the death of a dictator.
Adrian Paci generally explores and addresses issues at the core of which are the search for a new identity while being lost in an alien world, moving away from one kind of uncertainty to another.”Back home” is a series of photographs featuring expatriate families (in present time) in the background of their homes in the country of origin (of an earlier time). There’s a feeling of a slight mismatch in these photos. It seems they (the people) belong, and at the same time do not belong to themselves within the dual space-time.
With the same concern of leaving the house and carrying it with him wherever he goes, the sculpture “Home to go” presents the artist himself, who, almost naked, holds with distinct difficulty a ceramic tile roof. Pieces of home, leaning on his back, embodies the memory and sensitivity to history, culture, tradition and family; all these sources from which the artist was conceived, but not only. It also embodies the obligation the artist has towards them as part of his shaping. The relationship with the home seems to be necessary and objectionable; is both a contributor and a recipient. The artist himself sees the overturned roof as a set of wings leading him up and far away; though, as they encourage him to fly, they also hinder with the heavy weight he carries. Thus, mainly the artist, but also the human being in general, always lives in the time between two choices: maintaining a strong attachment to the roots as one experiences life’s uninterrupted transformation. This is the price to pay. As is the case with “The Column”: marble is lost in quantity, but after its carving a work of art is obtained.
Traces from childhood are also present in the exhibition, but they undoubtedly come with a psycho-social explanation tendency in the video “Per speculum” in which children are placed in a natural setting. They break the mirror to play / have fun with the sunrise, up climbing a tree; conveying the idea of partial knowledge against complete knowledge, face to face.
But what does the world and social life look like in the eyes of a child?. “A Real Game” is a video that introduces us to the Albanian world in difficult times as seen from the perspective of a child, the author’s own infant daughter, who touchingly recounts man’s essential (existential) ability to adapt to or escape from the most extreme circumstances. What remains indelible from memory, is the child’s innocent smile throughout the dramatic narrative, a story that is made possible through a play where the artist is placed in the teacher’s seat and the daughter in that of the pupil’s.
All of this anthological exhibition, with a variety of topics, techniques, locations and time is reflected by interacting motion pictures (video), by static ones (painting, mosaic, installation), and has as its focus the effort of putting into action and increasing civic accountability in the unstoppable pace of society. The work titled: “Di queste luci si servirà la notte” greets you, both, at the entrance and the exit of the exhibition; these light extensions hang from a boat lifted up into the air and whirl around the ground, as a way of saying that salvation will come from light, no doubt. He is the safest anchor.
* Adrian Paci (born 1969 in Shkodra, Albania) studied painting at the Academy of Arts in Tirana. In 1997 he settled in Milan, where he lives and works. During his career, Adrian Paci has had many personal exhibitions at various international institutions such as: Museum of Contemporary Art in Montreal (Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal) (2014); Contemporary Art Pavilion in Milan, (Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea – PAC, Milan) (2014); Jeu de Paume, Paris (2013); National Gallery of Kosovo, Prishtina (2012); Kunsthaus Zurich, Zurich (2010); Bloomberg Space, London (2010); The Center for Contemporary Art – CCA, Tel Aviv (2009); Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund (2007); MoMA PS1, New York (New York) (2006) and Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (2005).
Among the various joint exhibitions, Adrian Paci’s work is also featured in the 14th edition of the Venice Biennale, International Architecture Exhibition (2014); in the 48th and 51st editions of the Venice Biennale, international art exhibition (1999 and 2005 respectively); in the 15th Sydney Biennale (2006); in the 15th edition of the Quadriennale in Rome, where he also won the first prize (2008); in the Lyon Biennale (2009); and in the 4th edition of the Thessaloniki Biennale for Contemporary Art (2013).
His works are part of several private and public collections, including the New York Metropolitan Museum; Museum of Modern Art in New York (New York); Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art (Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal); Center Pompidou (Center Pompidou) in Paris; The Museum of Israel in Jerusalem; MAXXI in Rome; Fundacio Caixa in Barcelona; Moderna Museet in Stockholm; Kunsthaus Zürich in Zurich; UBS Art Collection London; Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami (Miami), United States (USA), New York Public Library, New York, Solomon Guggenheim Foundation, New York (New York) ; Seattle Art Museum (Seattle Art Museum, Seattle).
Adrian Paci is a painting lecturer at the New Academy of Fine Arts (Nuova Accademia di Belle Art NABA) in Milan. He has taught at the Accademia Carrara di Belle Arti in Bergamo, 2002-2006; IUAV, Venice 2003-2015, and has lectured and directed workshops at many universities, art academies and institutions in various countries.
* Adam Budak has been the Chief Curator at the National Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic since 2014. He was previously a curator for contemporary art at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., at Kunsthaus of the Universalmuseum Joanneum, Graz, Austria, and the Municipal Gallery of Contemporary Art Bunkier Sztuki, Cracow, Poland. Budak has curated numerous exhibitions, including Manifesta 7 (Trentino Alto Adige), Venice Biennale (the Polish Pavilion of the Architecture Biennale and the Estonian Pavilion at Art Biennale), two editions of the Prague Biennale, Gherdwina Biennale, and Trienala Ladina, and he has worked with many distinguished artists, including Louise Bourgeois, John Baldessari, Sharon Lockhart, Monika Sosnowska, Ai Weiwei and Brian Eno.