Edi Hila: Prince of the Lake
The title of the exhibition, Prince of the Lake, is also the title of the first painting of a new series started in 2020. Architecture, the artist's preferred motif, infuses his work with meaning. For Edi Hila believes that a lot can be learned about a society from its architecture. As one who experienced the disillusionment of a country in the throes of reconstruction, he denounces and causes us to reflect upon the megalomania and anachronisms of rehashed architecture behind the former Iron Curtain.
House in Korça, 1945 is a cycle of works created in 2020, by way of which Edi Hila looks back on the violent displacement of peoples from their homes in the Second World War. These empty rooms, abandoned suddenly, bear witness to a past life. Similarly uninhabited, the paintings offer the visitor a stripped-down, ghostlike vision of these homes. His symbolic, abstract approach enables Edi Hila to transform an ordinary interior into an eerie flight of the imagination.
Open Museum is a series of paintings begun in 2018 in the aftermath of the wave of terrorist attacks that rocked Europe between 2015 and 2017. These disturbing visions trace the history of our civilisation through the prism of violence: from medieval armour to a cupboard full of weapons, or indeed the Tirana underground on fire. If the subject of these works is intended as figurative, though allegorical, their visual construction comes somewhat closer to being architectural, even abstract.
Edi Hila was born in Shkodër, Albania, in 1944. Since 1991, he has taught painting at the University of Arts in Tirana, where he helped mould such artists as Adrian Paci and Anri Sala. Since more than twenty years, the troubled political history of his country is at the center of his creation: his artworks testify to the necessity for Edi Hila to reinvent himself as an artist. This set opens a window into the complex identity of Edi Hila?s work: the subtlety of his paintings, his scope of reference, his perspective on European, and, more specifically, Albanian culture.
Edi Hila has recently been the subject of retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, at the National Gallery of Arts in Tirana, and at the Vienna Secession Building. He has also exhibited to an international public on a number of other occasions, such as at the Venice Biennale and After the Wall at Moderna Museet in Stockholm (both 1999); Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, and the Ludwig Museum, Budapest (both 2000); and Blood & Honey: The Future's in the Balkans, curated by Harald Szeemann for the Essl Museum in Vienna (2003); as well as the Liverpool Biennial (2010), and also documenta 14, in Kassel and Athens (2017). His works feature in the collections held by the Musée National d'Art Moderne (in the Centre Pompidou); by the Frac des Pays de la Loire and the FRAC Auvergne; by the FMAC Paris; by the New Gallery in Kassel; by the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; and by the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven.