OVERVIEWAPR 06 to JUN 23Solo Exhibition
- Solo Exhibition
- Emerging Artists
Dates and Opening hoursAPR 06 to JUN 23, 2013
- Erzen Shkololli
Erzen Shkololli created the work 'Pejë, Kosovo, 1998' when he was 22 years old. Fifteen years later, the work is on public display for the second time in two years. In the intervening years, the work was kept in storage, first in Kosovo and later in Berlin.
Pejë, Kosovo, 1998 was made during the time of the Kosovo war when Shkololli, a young artist at the time, was in hiding for three months with his family in Pejë, during the horrific period of ethnic cleansing of the war. In order to keep active, he did what he could under the circumstances with whatever was around - material from his father’s bespoke sewing shop and his mother’s home sewing machine. As a result, he made a series of colourful patchworks, one that was 22 meter long and comprised of eight banners.
Looking at the long banner, genderless red figures jump out at the viewer. Most of the schematically drawn figures have their hands up, interspersed with coffins, houses and flowers all in strong colours on a black background. The works have an almost Matisse or COBRA-like quality to them, European artists from the 1950s who were also active in the immediate aftermath of a war. They might also seem emotionally flat given the subject matter, devoid of compassion and without depth or perspective, yet this flat colour creates a very clear form. Shkololli’s naive or infantile forms install a certain degree of discomfort, faced as we are by the beauty of the colour and composition while confronting childlike images of death.
Alongside Shkololli’s patchworks, drawn postcards printed in seductive colours are placed on a table. These postcards are some of hundreds painted by children in the refugee camps in the immediate weeks after the war as part of a humanitarian rehabilitation project. Erzen worked with the children, in an attempt to normalise their experiences whilst at the same time coming to terms with his own experiences. The postcards have the same mysterious quality as the patchworks - at once beautiful and disturbing.
Erzen Shkololli (born 1976, Pejë, Kosovo), is an artist and curator. Currently he is the director of National Gallery of Kosovo, co-founder of EXIT Contemporary Art Institute in Pejë.
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