Lekë Tasi’s “Drawings of a Lifetime” personal exhibition, curated by Zef Paci and HARABEL, was displayed at the FAB gallery premises in Tirana from April 17th to April 28th 2019. Unlike any other Lekë Tasi’s exhibition, an artist well-known for his oil paintings, is full of colourful, surrealistic, magic characters and situations. This exhibition brought to light drawings he created in intimacy and never did he think that one day they would be exhibited – just as a writer writes in a journal, not in a typewriter. The ultimate purpose of a work inevitably conditions it. The lack of intention to exhibit these drawings, makes them unveiled their sincerity, good and bad, in love and in fear. The drawing language is simple, almost casual, which makes the whole experience of the exhibition very fresh, even when the subject of the drawing is dramatic.
Through sketches Lekë Tasi briefly describes character and events; conveys all sorts of sensations, lived or witnessed. The simplicity and innocence with which his thoughts and feelings appear, lead you to a complex maze, just like wandering in a world of wonders but, always without feeling the heavy burden of this surreal world, it’s almost like floating into water. Not just the exhibition, but all Lekë Tasi’s sketchy creativity is a silent dialogue with himself about life: at times extremely clean, sometimes sneering and somewhat judgmental. However, in no case prejudicial.
Concerning the exhibition in question, in the curatorial text, researcher Zef Paci, states: “These drawings simultaneously display the life and creativity of Lekë Tasi. He lived and worked disconnected from what was the single dominant stream in Albania: the socialist realism, even though he found himself within its whirlpool. His artistic efforts originated and continued in a period of great austerity, but they later freely flourished and developed, because he worked in secrecy, and would not tell any soul about his work. As a beginner, Lekë Tasi received some art lessons, however being in a situation of persecution and exclusion he slowly elaborated a personal style. His case proves that difficult times may result in higher forms of expression.
The drawings are exhibited on the occasion of the author’s 90s birthday, and as they recall the past, they also honor his day of birth. For this reason we used the notion of parallels between the human birth and drawing as procreation, as the genesis of the conception of the art work. Not having the opportunity to tell the story and the experiences, he found in drawing the means to say what originates spontaneously, without correcting or without submitting to the cold logic, without censorship and self-restriction. Lekë Tasi didn’t specifically think of his drawings as art works that could be exhibited; thus why some are drawn on both sides of the same piece of paper.
This exhibition is a small selection of a very long-lasting artistic project undertaken by the author. Mainly, he worked and continues to work in small formats; both the drawing and the painting have as starting point the size of a sheet. Temperament promotes sincerity rather than size. Through drawings, he draws attention to small stories, anecdotes, rumors, hidden and unheard tensions that animate the space.
In Lekë Tasi drawings you may happen to feel irony, but it is not ruthless. His markings preserve a spirit of play and Lekë himself affirms his observation on reality, the play is a way to approach reality and at the same time escape it. The way he draws, spreads a poetic flare. He works with it by occasionally including color to evoke the sensations that range from drunkenness bliss, gentle melancholy to hopeless despair.”
* Lekë Tasi was born in Athens in 1929 in a family of Albanian emigrants. He studied music and worked as a cello player on Radio, Philharmonic and at the Opera Theater (1946-1967). Dismissed for political reasons, he was sent in exile in Myzeqe, where he worked in farming. He was released in 1990. In 1991 he was appointed at the Secretariat for Religion at the Ministry of Culture and later to the Prime Minister’s office, where he contributed until 1998. From very young age he practiced painting; initially with graphics (aquarium, tempera, pastel, chinese ink, flomaster) and later he painted almost completely in oil. Although self-taught, even his earlier works have been appraised by well-known painters such as Mio, Buza, Zajmi and Paskali with whom he consulted regularly.
Lekë Tasi was a participant in the joint exhibition organized by the Soros Foundation (1992) at the Pyramid and four other times at the GKA (1992, 2003, 2007, 2015). He was part of another joint exhibition together with other painters Ll. Blido and R. Guci at the “Joseph” gallery (Durrës, 2005). He has been a participant at the Onufri exhibition three times during the ’90s; the last participation was in 2004 with the exhibition entitled “Prominent Places”. Among his personal exhibitions we can mention those exhibited in galleries such as: “Exit” (Peja, 2005), “Zeta” (Tirana, 2012), and “DIDART” (Tirana, 2008-2012).His works have also been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Genoa Italy along with 25 other artists at the exhibition “Art in Albania – before and after the 1990” (November 2009 – February 2010). In Alba, Galeria d`Arte – Angelo Galeasso, he opened his personal exhibition “La Mia Accademia delle Ore Libere” (21-29 July 2014). In April 2016 he participated with 163 Albanian artists in the event Luciano Benetton Collection “Imago Mundi”.