Imagery#1 oil on canvas 40cm x 60 cm
Imagery#2 oil on canvas 80cm x 115cm
Imagery#3 oil on canvas 60cm x 90cm
Imagery #4 oil on canvas 60cm x 90cm
Imagery #5 oil on canvas 40cm x 30cm
Courtesy of the artist
School books in Albania, like in any other country, feature texts and illustrations on the country’s history and society. Until the establishment of the Republic of Albania in 1991, the educational approach in history classes focused on the socialist People’s Republic founded under the leadership of Enver Hoxha. Yet due to the cheap production of the school books the quality of the 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. 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. 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 Qylafi’s paintings maintain 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 schoolbook images reveal their propaganda aesthetics. These are simultaneously emphasized and rewritten in the process of painting.
Leonard Qylafi (1980, Korca, Albania) graduated by the Academy of Fine arts of Tirana in 2003(atelier of painting) is an Albanian artist working in different mediums such as video, photography and painting, which work has been exhibited internationally in spaces and institutions such as: Kunstlerhaus Bethainen, Berlin/Germany, Kunst Raum Riehen Basel, MODEM Museum for Modern and Contemporary Arts Debrecen/Hungary , ISCP- New York /USA ,ArtPoint Gallery Kulturkontakt and Vienna Art Fair /Austria, Kunsthalle Karlsruhe /Germany. Participant at Tirana International Contemporary Art Biennial, XIII Biennal of young artists from Europe and Mediterranean etc.
To Leonard Qylafi has been awarded several residency programs by; NIFCA-Nordic institute of contemporary art Helsinki/Finland, ISCP New York /USA, KKA-KulturKontakt Austria and TICA-Tirana institute for contemporary art. He is the winner of “ARDHJE” award for Albanian young artists in 2008, and was nominated by the Albanian KULT academy “visual artist of the year 2008”. His works are part of public and private collections. He lives and works in Tirana , Albania.