Contemporary artist Oltsen Gripshi opened his solo exhibition “Seasons of being or the hymn of life” in the art pavilion at the Ministry of Culture in Tirana, starting from January 27th – February 28th, 2021. We recall that the project “Pavilion – Art in Public Institutions” is an initiative of the Ministry of Culture.
The exhibition, consisting of paintings and installations, was based mainly on figures of symbolism and parallelism. Metaphorically, the title “Seasons of being or hymn of life” reminds us of the analogy between the natural and vital seasons of man from birth to death; consequently, we seek our representation in art through them. Thus, the artistic journey in the exhibition started with the winter season, which was represented by a completely unused family item, one of the few saved items from the collapse of the author’s own house, after the seismic shock in Albania on November 26th, 2019.
Although the starting point of this exhibition is precisely a severe natural phenomenon (the earthquake), the author’s artistic counteraction comes as an encouragement for self-recovery. The strong, vivid colors used in the exhibition for each season respectively, proved that a shock of this kind, so extensive (physically, spiritually, morally, economically) does not represent an end, an irreversible overturn; nor should it be seen as such. It was a shock, which must be followed by resurgence as a contraposition to our common drama. Pieces saved from the collapse, such as a hand-crafted cover, serve as an incitement for the artist to “interlace” a seasonal journey through visual art, which is related to both one’s personal human journey and that of the society as a whole; thus, with cracks, breaks, dramas, but just as much with inspiration and strength to regain vitality, in this case, through colors and signs (symbols).
When just a few objects are left after the seismic shock, inherited these from blood relations, then they are no longer merely objects; they are fragments from the past, memories’ stimulators with high spiritual heaviness in terms of strong blood connection, of the land where a human was born, raised and where they worked / created; thus, in this case, such a simple thing becomes a catalyst between a human and his roots, so important for the qualitative and meaningful inheritance of life. Already, the satin blue cover carries the bittersweet taste of the beloved past and of that dramatic past, the earthquake.
Chronologically, the seasons are listed one after the other, followed by winter with spring and summer which come through the genre of painting. The picture of spring (or spiritual revival and not only spiritual), in addition to the vibrancy of colors, contains the faithful herald of the season, the swallow, in this case decomposed in the picture, while the summer picture shines from the strong yellow and in its content are the typical animal representatives of this season (the snake and the fly). Just like winter, autumn comes to the exhibition through installation; the winter blue cover also resembles a picture; while the autumn picture is shaped with leaves which fill it and scatter everywhere around it. The peculiarity in the autumn season lies in the fact that the visitor, on the run, can take with him a part of it.
There is a general opposition to the bad things in this exhibition. Thus, the creations of the exhibition contrast with the dark background (in black) in which they are placed and created in such a way that the interaction between them and the viewer is as close and strong as possible. None of the elements used, except the background, seem to come in negative nuances. There is no conclusive definition that the raven, the snake, and the fly (elements used in the exhibition for symbolic purposes) come in negative nuances, respectively: ominous, insidious, or annoying. They may think about the solitary moment (through the raven), the protection of the possessed space or the elasticity and strength while facing difficult situations (through the serpent), and also the insistence “to be”, “to face”, rising above the disabilities and extremely small sizes (through the fly).
The whole exhibition is in itself a large installation that includes smaller installations, among which the nucleus is the installation trinomial consisting of: the tulip – the mark of life, of beauty, of fragility and of temporality; the skull – a sign of death, consequently, of fear, ugliness, anxiety; and the sand time meter (our meter, because time is infinite), which leads us to the thought of the infinity of time. And in the center, above everything, an egg is exposed as a sign of the origin of the being. The exhibition, in which the content and the aesthetic side are closely intertwined and put at the service of each other, is a reflection of self-cognitive experiences, an invitation to the viewer for a process of self-cognition as well. The strong connection of the human being with animal beings, with natural phenomena, that is, with nature in general it’s so conspicuously present.
The exhibition, based on the feeling of remembering / reliving the pain on one hand and awakening hope on the other, created with signs (symbols) – each of which is a stimulus to the thought of the continuity of life, overcoming natural and social obstacles – intended to raise an anthem to life, despite the difficulty of each season, precisely thanks to the connection that the human being tries to establish with the place and time through which he travels and leaves his mark.