I have always had an interest in art. Whether it is picking up a paintbrush and having a dab at it myself or soaking up the beauty of others creations, aesthetically pleasing pastimes have always been a part of my life. I am no art buff by any stretch of the imagination and my analysis of artwork extends to whether I like to look of it, as opposed to dissecting the meaning of every paintbrush, that doesn’t mean I don’t know a masterpiece when I see it.
So far, my knowledge of Albanian art extends to a couple of graffiti artists and the pieces I see displayed in the various art galleries near my home. I was sure that being a country that is built on the influence of so many different cultures, Albanian art would have something truly unique to offer. Here are some of my discoveries.
Vangjush Mio 1891-1957
Mio was born in Korce in 1891. An impressionist painter, his brother Sokrat Mio was a well-known and respected director and actor. In 1908 he moved to Bucharest, Romania where he became an active member of the Albanian Artists Colony and started his study of Fine Arts at the National University of the Arts. Over the next few years, he moved between Italy and Albania, learning his skills as well as teaching others and displaying his works in many prominent exhibitions. He became revered as the first impressionist painter in Albania and he is known for his incredible depictions of the landscapes around him. He painted extensively locations such as Korce, and Pogradec but he is also well known for his depictions of Tirana, Elbasan, Berat, and Gjirokaster. As well as being skilled at painting landscapes, he also showed a talent for portraits, as well as being appointed the set designer of the Korce city theatre. Over his 40 years of panting, he produced around 400 drawings and 130 paintings, 60 of which are on display at the National Art Gallery in Tirana. His other words are available to be viewed at the Vanjush Mio Museum.
Andrea Kushi 1884-1959
Born in 1885 in Shkoder, Albania, Kushi spent most of his childhood being inspired by the works of the famous Albanian painter Kole Idromeno. He then went on to study Fine Art in Belgrade between 1912 and 1914 but his lessons were interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. After the war ended, he returned to Serbia to continue his studies, graduating in 1920. He then moved back to Albania and became a teacher of fine art at a school in Elbasan before starting the first art school in the country in Tirana. The main focus of his work was portraits and landscapes and some of his most famous paintings include Portret Vazje and Bariu me Shkop. His works can be admired in the National Gallery of Figurative Arts of Albania in Tirana and galleries in both Elbasan and Shkoder.
Ibrahim Kodra 1918-2006
Ibrahim Kodra was born in Ishem in 1918 and took art classes from Odhise Paskali during 1929. During the time of his studies, one of his drawings caught the eye of Queen Geraldine of Albania and it would set in motion a series of events that would change his life. He ended up in Italy studying fine arts as a part of a scholarship supported by the Albanian Kingdom, and he the received a second scholarship from the Italian government and went to study at the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera in Milan. Kodra moved in the same circles as Picasso and even exhibited with Matisse, Modigliani, Rouault and Dufy and you can see their influence in his work. He was awarded the Honor of Nation Order by the President of the Republic of Albania in 1996.
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