The Zeta Gallery presents the exhibition “Open Archive” from the 15th of December 2020 to the end of February 2021. This exhibition is the first of this kind in this gallery and comes as a follow-up to the program of the central art institution in Albania, the National Gallery of Arts. The exhibition introduces itself as an opportunity for the art-loving public to (re)observe closely the works of artists who have exhibited in the space of “Zeta” over the years and have donated a work of theirs as a sign of their generosity.
Different generations of visual creators are represented in this exhibition, starting with: Lekë Tasi and Lumturi Blloshmi; to continue with: Anila Shapalaku, Merita Selimi, Shpëtim Kërçova, Ali Oseku; and then with the later artists: Ilir Kaso, Stefano Romano, Ledia Kostandini, Edison Çeraj, Leonard Qylafi, Matilda Odobashi, Albana Shoshi, Dritan Hyska, Gentian Shkurti, Remijon Pronja, Blerina Muça, Blerta Hoçia, Alketa Ramaj, Enkelejd Zonja, Fani Zguro, Aldi Zgjani; and then reaching to the latest generation, which is represented in this space by Eros Dibra.
If we could make a thematic definition of the works that have been selected to be displayed, we would first mention the theme of childhood, but there are also themes that address political, urban concerns and topics on inner human philosophical questions about the relationships with oneself, with the others and with time.
Despite this effort of classification, the special characters of Lekë Tasi seem far from the ordinary; you see them inside of a bus and they are so limited (physically) and so free at the same time, thanks to their variability. They are exactly the daily passengers of a bus, with different portraits/characters looking in different directions.
A full angle is dedicated to the artist Lumturi Blloshmi, as a tribute to her passing away a while ago. The works of Lumturi Blloshmi are already an undeniable part of the heritage of the Albanian art and in this exhibition she is represented with a work entitled “It’s a wonderful life”, in which the artist’s concern is focused on the (mis)use of time. She placed jars filled with finished cigarettes on a typical cupboard of the communist era. Every shelf is loaded with ashes and cigarette ends stored in glass. Short breaks to smoke a cigarette or years ripped away only from the side effects of this repeated act? The cigarettes are nothing but an object, but everyone is afraid of confronting these whole shelves of wasted time.
The theme of childhood has been treated/reflected broadly in art; consequently, it comes in various forms of reflection, but in the creations of Albana Shoshi, as a representative artist of photo-realism, the emotion transmitted by the moments of everyday life around this theme takes precedence.
The elementary colors and shapes, which are a feature of children’s creations, are also found in the work of artist Edison Çeraj. The drawing of the house and the nature in very simple forms is a way of resting and exploring within oneself, without forgetting the primary purpose to preserve in its fresh state the first feeling for the world, even after the inevitable vital and professional impact, which always pushes/encourages for a change of worldview.
And here we are in front of the photography of a little girl from artist Yllka Gjollesha. She stands well-dressed with her coat, underneath which the white collar appears, with her legs crossed and holds a plastic toy in her hand, a dinosaur, as if she is showing her favorite toy in front of the class. What stands out from all of this is the innocence of the child.
In the series of the paintings of Blerina Muça, in which the red color predominates, a little boy is introduced. The way that the child covers his face with this red cloth leads us to the sad thought of every fear in our life, although for the child in question this could not have been anything else but just a game.
Meanwhile, artist Gentian Shkurti assigns some simple exercises to the students of an elementary school. Small lines or squares, numbers and underlining, in the way that children write, according to their perception, outside the frames set by adults. Gentian Shkurti follows the children, creating lineaments after their work; just as a society must follow the individual worldview of everyone. The teacher and the student become one, for the same purpose, but the message comes out multiplied.
Although already digressing from the theme and the connections with childhood, the same goal follows in the work of artist Idlir Koka, where the spectator becomes one with the show. The director includes every armchair of the audience in a single, huge stage and everyone is involved in one role, in the magic of the spectacle.
In the series “What where you doing when the dictator died?”, artist Ilir Kaso creates a dry graphic by recycling electoral posters, where two hands are presented – one of them checks the pulse of the other hand, symbolizing the end of a life, but the message of the continuity of life is followed by a moving wheel sign, as a continuum of the hand that no longer pulsates.
The work of Stefano Romano shows the ability of the work itself to respond to the desire and to the work of the author. He marks on cotton with blue, black, green and red pens, but this causes the cotton to detach due to the pressure exerted. Thus, the result of the work is an expressed desire and a response from the tableau, which in the end results in a work of art.
Another artist, Blerta Hoçia, introduces us to the beginning of the world through two photographs which have not completed the process, but have been left halfway. In them we distinguish the first shapes or shadows towards the creation of an image, that is, the first steps of creation, where everything is a concept, an approximate and a yet not consolidated idea, a beginning.
The moment of destruction of the high towers, which are drowned in concrete dust during the fall, is introduced by the creation of Dritan Hyska as a form of the flattening of hierarchy from the highest peaks to the ruins. Following the urban theme, next there’s the work of Matilda Odobashi in which the electric wires are dragged and entangled from every balcony and continue to extend touching every wall of the urban space, where they can be caught, by creating a sort of endless game. Meanwhile in the photograph of Ledia Kostandini, the tiles of the sidewalk have been turned into envelopes. The artist composes several photos documenting an intervention of hers in the urban space with shapes that are known to the eye.
The political scene in the exhibition is represented by a painting by Enkelejd Zonja, in the center of which the politician is located. There’s a red carpet and a camera on the side. The politician stays with his hands hidden under the table, with his head tilted, while the news that he transmits to his people is recorded.
Every work displayed in the exhibition, even each part of the archive still unrevealed is a throwback to the past; each one of them contains a memory and keeps on recreating memories for the artist, the art lovers and also constitutes an artistic testimony for the history of Albanian art. All this, is a way of reminding us the value of time and the role of the man/artist in its proper use.