The Galerie Mitterrand is pleased to present the third solo exhibition of Albanian painter Edi Hila. This exhibition, called Tirana-Versailles, has been organized following the artist’s participation in the latest edition of documenta in Kassel and Athens, and is an opportunity for the Parisian public to discover an ensemble of paintings produced between 2001 and 2015. A large retrospective will be devoted to the artist at the Warsaw Museum of Modern Art (March-May 2018).
A major figure on the Balkan arts scene, over the past twenty or so years, Edi Hila has witnessed the dramatic changes experienced by European post-Soviet communities. Refusing to immigrate to a wealthier country, he chose to live in Tirana, where he has developed a body of work that explores the transitory nature of his country’s history (a natural frontier between East and West), as well as the position of Albanian painting in the history of Mediterranean art.
The exhibition Tirana-Versailles presented at the Galerie Mitterrand brings together a selection of Edi Hila’s works from a number of series produced by the artist since the early 2000s. These paintings focus on the urban environment, especially architecture, which, according to the artist, is the privileged place of expression of Albanian identity. It is through the representation of architecture that the artist visually and symbolically materializes political power, cultural heritage and the psychological climate of his country. The exhibition brings together opposing social realities. The government buildings of the authoritarian Communist regime, in Pyramides, Monument, Municipalité de Tirana, stand alongside more modest buildings seen in Périphérie or the abandoned structures from the painting Maison II. The reference to Versailles is present in the recent Boulevards series, notably exhibited in its entirety at the last edition of documenta. This series represents the main public buildings that line the Martyrs of the Nation Boulevard in Tirana, and Edi Hila establishes a parallel between the urban and architectural organization of the classical period—symbolized notably by the geometric design and decorative grandiloquence of Versailles—and the authoritarian expression of Communist power in the urbanization and construction of such public buildings. From Tirana to Versailles, the artist draws our attention to the complex relationships that connect our history, identities and environment through his delicate and enigmatic painting.
Edi Hila was born in Shkodër, Albania, in 1944. Since 1991, he has taught painting at the Tirana Academy of the Arts, with artists like Adrian Paci and Anri Sala among his students. His works have been included in numerous international exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale (1999), After the Wall at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm (1999), at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin and the Ludwig Museum in Budapest (2000), Blood and Honey, The Future’s Balkan curated by Harald Szeeman at the Essl Museum in Vienna (2003), the Liverpool Biennale (2010) and documenta in both Kassel and Athens (2017). His paintings are part of international museum collections, such as the Musée national d’art Moderne - Centre Pompidou, the FRAC Pays de la Loire, the Fonds Municipal de la ville de Paris (City of Paris Municipal Collection), the Neue Gallery in Kassel and the Warsaw Museum of Modern Art.