Color print technology was introduced in Albania in the late 70s. As it was an expensive and elaborate
Technology only selected magazines and publications with a wide national and international print run
Featured color image reproductions. Nevertheless, the quality of these reproductions illustrating the socialist party’s parades, the leader’s official speeches and other important events was rather bad- mismatching colors, blurred images ,and a general unbalanced color scheme dominate the reprints of the photographs documenting events considered to be important for the People’s Republic image under Enver Hoxha. The dominant color of many of these pictures is red: red flags, red tracksuits worn during official sports events, red neck scarves.
Leonard Qylafi uses these commonly known reproductions as source material for a series of paintings. The paintings reveal their photographic sources, but emphasize the blurred outlines of the depicted people, transforming them into abstract mass ornaments. They focus only on a part of the original photo as if zooming into the parades and events, which are compositions of choreographed bodies themselves. The level of abstraction varies from soft contours to vanished outlines merging individuals into a composition that only at second glance is based on a mass of people standing in rows. Although Qylafis’s paintings maintain fragments of the original composition, the transfer from the book page into a painting is a synthetic one that focuses on the pictorial aspects of the subject. Like time capsules opened after several decades the selected pages from books and magazines reveal their propaganda aesthetics. These are simultaneously emphasized and rewritten in the process of painting.
text “Museum of Nature” is a painting based project consisting in a series of oil on canvas paintings of different dimensions. Initially the project starts in 2009 as a series of photographs taken at the Museum of Nature in Tirana/Albania, a neglected building at the time that unfortunately does not exist any more. In a first phase a careful selection from the series of photographs was made by the artist, creating this way the gallery of single subjects to be paint. Each of the selected pictures becomes the source for the painting process; they maintain the original composition and are “portraits”,” figures”, and interiors.
text A found nail mark in a wall is surrounded with circles drown with a pencil one after the other. This marking process is synchronized with a voice scream following the circles, becoming louder and longer once they become bigger filling the frame. The whole process is very simple and complex in the same time as it includes action, image and sound. It tries to explore psychological elements of memory, trauma and obsession.
text The camcorder flows slowly capturing the first subject of the video, a shoe than another one, there is some water on the ground. The image moves followed by large arches notes till the music fades out and the view becomes wider, reviling the scene. The subjective experience of the moving image lives the place to the physical reality, the city noises are back and the viewer can see that the whole story was situated over a roof.
text Sisyphus is a close up observation of the subject attempts to escape from an unfamiliar and unwanted environment. A “trapped” grasshopper (the subject) is the center of gravity of the 3 min. video. The failure act of this last amplified by the repetitive music notes in background evokes the endless act of Sisyphus inside an Iconographic oval frame which “embraces” the subject and his arduous journey.
text Reenacting a childhood experience “The typology of beginning” is a metaphor for the human kind as a subject, his/her relationship with the space it grows in (family, society and environment) and the very personal way each subject diverts in this growing process. The series of color photographs represent the same experiment of elementary school with some beans growing on wet cotton, inside different size/habitats vases..
text Tirana the city which has been subject of critical urban changes in the last decades is the “stage/platform” where these projects “perform their acts”. The personal experience living inside this dynamic is the core of the artist research which hosts several mediums in order to reflect the complexity of his relationship with the changing environment. Video, photography, painting, mixed media and selected text were produced within a period of seven years trying to lump the essence and the shapes of the changing process (happening in time and space) in a very synthetic body of work.
text ”Vision from the past” is an imaginary landscape calling the dreamy feeling of Leonardo Da Vinci-s backgrounds inviting the viewer in a mental flight engaging feelings, curiosity and fantasy. Realized in 2011 for “ Flying” the exhibition curated by Christoph Tannert and Ulrich Schreiber held in November 2012 at Kunstlerhaus Bethainen, Berlin.
text The 2 channels video in 7 minutes involves the subject, light and sounds in an intensive relation between time and space. The artist produces the music and interferes with the minimalist aesthetic of the composition giving sense to the space, while the light gives sense to the time passing in both projections. Time going is the essence of this delicate meditative process which creates a new time frame different from the original one, to be consumed by the viewer as a personal experience just when they see it.
text The relations we have with places is very complex and somehow impossible to describe in words. In Tirana where I live is very usual to see buildings demolished for building new ones. This violent transformation impacts the life of people living in the city. When you see that a building that you know is demolished the kind of shock you experience can not be described. This was also the case with the building that becomes the stage of my performance. I go there and play a short music piece I have composed as a memoriam to the relation I use to have with that place.