During May 10th – 25th, 2021, FAB Gallery displayed the artwork created by painter Shpëtim Kërçova between 2018 and 2020. The exhibition held a large number of works grouped in 4 series by curator Genti Gjikola: Dogs / Roses / Swimmers and Painters / Amongst the Foliage. The exhibition was rich in oil paintings for the most part, then a few sketches, and it expanded on all three spaces of the FAB Gallery premises.
Shpëtim Kërçova’s paintings, while being individually distinguishable in terms of subjects and themes, they often share certain elements that make his art identifiable among others. Among these characteristics you can notice the repetition of a subject or space, identically or similarly, thus they can easily become confounded between them. A second distinctive characteristic are the colors that Shpëtim Kërçova uses. Visitors would see how the pink, the green, the blue and the purple are the same in several paintings, covered by a neon hue, as if they’re being lighted by cold lamps.
A repeated motif in Kërçova’s paintings, either standalone or in the company of the girls with their ponytails and colorful clothing, the wandering dogs appear with clearly defined characters. This series of paintings is titled “Street Story” and they’re displayed for a second time in Tirana during this year, following “The Project” exhibition, near Gallery70.
Small white and pink roses appear amongst leaves in two small canvases that compose this cycle. They are displayed next to one another and they impart a calm, soft aesthetic that distinguishes them from the other paintings in the exhibition.
Swimmers and Painters.
Twelve oil paintings on canvas show some male swimmers, who swim in the seas and pools, sometimes individually and other times in groups. The concept of these paintings is focused on the interrelation between swimming and breathing. All the pieces are called “Breathe in” and the swimmers are shown in green and blue waters, swimming freestyle, without respecting each other’s lanes. Their faces display frenzy, they are distorted in the effort to coordinate swimming and breathing. This cycle transmits a feeling of movement in a way that resembles “Street Story”, but bears the extra element of chaos, a certain entanglement that offers the swimmer’s experience to the viewer. The subjects swim in different rhythms, some seem to face nearly fatal difficulties and swim dangerously close to others. In one of the paintings, a subject seems to be lost underwater.
The left corner of the gallery displays 8 paintings within paintings, where the subjects paint other subjects, individually or in groups. They are all titled “Painting”. The painters carry bright color clothing and some are often portrayed in diptychs, in positions that vary slightly, showing some movement (like in Painting 6 – After Goya). The subjects of different ages and characters could be students or professionals. The canvases scattered in the working rooms give the idea that the spaces are studios or study rooms, dedicated to painting.
A single painting is found in the wall nearby, showing a painter during his work process, and under his feet some canvases turned on their back, hiding the painting from the viewers, but free to be turned around if a viewer pleases.
In front of the painters there are six pencil sketches titled “Drawing” and again they show subjects engaged in painting, this time without clear details.
Amongst the Foliage.
The group that is last mentioned in the title contains some of the largest paintings of the exhibition, which greet the visitors as soon as they enter the FAB Gallery. Two of the paintings are brought in the form of a diptych, as one unique painting stretched in two canvases. The first one shows a rainy day in a city that resembles Tirana, or maybe it is only confounded with Tirana due to the typical colours used by the artist that coincide with those of the capital city. People carrying multicolored clothes and umbrellas wander the streets that intertwine amongst them and get interrupted by pieces of green spaces, gardens and casual trees. The same landscape is repeated in a second painting, only that this time the people are missing. The empty streets entwine only with the greens and there are less colors.
“Amongst the Foliage” continues with three other oil on canvas paintings that show different trees and plants, mainly coniferous ones. The last wall that is seen upon exiting the FAB Gallery contains another two paintings, thus ending the cycle of the visit in Shpëtim Kërçova’s exhibition on a green tone, same as it began.
*Shpëtim Kërçova (Albanian, born in 1968) studied painting and textile in the Academy of fine Arts in Tirana, graduating in 1991. Very active in many exhibitions in and outside the country, Kërçova at his beginnings experimented in different mediums such as installation and mixed media, but soon he concentrated in oil pantings, usually in series. From the 2000 he is one of the well-known contemporary artists of the country and a lecturer at the University of Arts in Tirana. His works usually analyze the human condition in the urban space, their relationship with nature and globalization topics. Some of his selected exhibitions are: “A landscape without horizon”, personal exhibition, Zeta Gallery, Tirana (2015); “Zeta Art Center & Gallery at SUPERMARKET 2014”, Stockholm Independent Art Fair (2014); Personal exhibition, Zeta Gallery, Tirana (2010); “Cosi vicina cosi lontana”, Villa Croce Genova, Italy (2009); “My space”, Hause am Lutzoplawtz, Berlin, Germany (2008); “Virtualbania”, Pavel Haus, Austria (2007); ’03-’11 “Onufri” International Competition, National Gallery of Arts, Tirana (2002).