Technicolour Diplomacy: The Art of Edi Rama
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s office might be a busy enclave of frenzied activity, but we now know that it is a colour-soaked one too! His exhibition titled Improvisations at the Zappeion features art made from documents on A4 paper, as well as calendars and other objects from his desk, giving political artistry a whole new meaning.
Improvisations, which opens on March 21 at the Zappeion Megaron, presents mixed media works and sculptures by the visual artist Mr. Edi Rama, currently Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania. The exhibition, organised by the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs and curated by Ms. Katerina Koskina, art historian and museologist, is spatially defined and activated by a construction-installation covered with a wallpaper, printed on which are a large number of Edi Rama’s paintings. The wallpaper also bears on its surface original works, painted on office documents, as well as ceramics. A similar wallpaper can be found in the Prime Minister’s Office in Tirana.
The title of the exhibition reflects the artist’s unique way of working. On A4-sizedpapers that have already been used in his office, such as calendars, notes or political documents, Edi Rama improvises with pastels, felt-tip pens and watercolours on his desk, while acting as a high official during various meetings and phone conversations. As he has noted himself, this automatic artistic writing helps him focus on such conversations fulfilling his political duties. The common elements of the works are the bold colours, the sense of flow and movement, the biomorphic shapes that seem to emerge one from the other, and the tracing of the artistic gesture. Rama’s work is connected to his perception of art and its social role, as integrated into life and public space. This perception was applied when, after his two-year tenure as Minister of Culture of his country, he served as Mayor of Tirana, a position he held for a long time, having been elected three times. As he pointed out in an interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, “art is a social infrastructure”.
Rama supports both in theory and in action the choices and practices he has adopted for art, that is an extroverted collaboration between art and politics. In 2013, he transformed the ground floor of the building that houses the Prime Minister’s Office into an open-to-the-public “Dialogue Centre”, where various activities take place, such as exhibitions, workshops and conferences. His office, after all, constitutes an unusual, “non-systemic” space, which retains elements of an artist’s studio.As the curator states, “The exhibition Improvisations, which is the first extensive presentation of E. Rama’s work in Greece, is doubly interesting as it illuminates not only the activity of an artist with experience in the educational field (also due to his tenure as a professor at the Tirana Academy of Arts for several years), but also the personality of a politician, for whom art is not only an expression of freedom, but also a tool for social and political cohesion.”
When: 21 – 31 March 2023
Where: Zappeion Megaron