Prime Minister Edi Rama’s opening remarks at exhibition at Centre for Openness and Dialogue, where drawings by painter Sali Shijaku are showcased for first time:
It is actually a very special context to open an exhibition that is nevertheless a celebrative moment for the works on display and for their author. And it is also very special that this is taking place in the presence of so few people, precisely because of this very special context where we are through, but, on the other hand, what I was thinking when I first saw this exhibition featuring these small works in size but significant in their entirety, it is precisely the idea of a chamber music and what came across my mind is that the professor has experienced so many celebrative moments, with visitors heading in droves to his large exhibitions of his works, often monumental ones. While a chamber music concert is seemingly taking place for the very first time, if I am not mistaken, and I very much hope that in the coming days and months, once the exhibition opens its doors to the public, despite the limited number of visitors dictated by the conditions we are being through, this feeling of chamber music concert and this privilege of firsthand experiencing and tasting these works among so few people, in so quite environment, without the pressure of a huge crowd of people will somehow provoke special emotions and pleasure to those visiting it.
I believe it is a great honor for our center here, it is a great honor for this building and for me personally that we have been given the opportunity, thanks also to the professor’s generosity and willingness so that we can exhibit Sali Shijaku, who is an indisputable reference point of our visual arts, a key figure in the history of our painting and definitely, a person with whom the artistic life of many others is connected, be they colleagues, be they the generations of students, who were inspired and motivated by Sali Shijaku.
I recall the professor being an imposing and austere presence in our artistic life. It was a dream for all of us the younger artists to meet Sali Shijaku and have him talking or offer us his advice and it has been a privilege for me to have learned some lessons that I still remember from the professor at his studio. It has also truly been a privilege for all those who have had the opportunity to be more intimate and be helped by him.
The professor said something that I think time, after 30 years now, has already solved, and it was about the totalitarianism-era art created under that sun of socialist realism, which was in a way a blinding sun for all those other ways of vision and that defined a single path of vision and it is clear today, I believe, that despite the time those works were created, despite the context and despite the limited tools available to artists, there is and will always be more room for those works to be properly evaluated, as they remain really important in terms of art, as well as authoritative in the halls where they go on display. I believe that despite the context and the way Vojo Kushi, for example, was perceived, or the painting featuring Vojo Kushi or the one showing Mic Sokoli or other monumental paintings by Sali Shijaku, the ones that best resist time and definitely attract art-admirers,who free from any burden of the past ideology or completely distanced from what has happened around such works at the time when they have been created. Likewise, there are a number of works from that era, which, in the context of a completely different era, when the freedom to exist and look is much broader than back then, they take advantage of this freedom and definitely represent a milestone of the history of our art, but also in themselves stand there. It is not just the historical context that makes them important, but in quite a few of them, even in themselves, they stand best without any problems in my opinion, with what it is created today and with the way they are seen today. Therefore, I think Sali Shijaku has created a double value, either in the historical aspect, because he is one of the revolutionaries of the Albanian painting and he is one of those who opened a lot of horizons regarding the way how painting, composition, the texture are perceived, the relationship between the figure and the spectator, but also in the context of contemporariness. I think many of those works today exist independent of the time when they were created and in a certain aspect they are there and with some wonder that is related to the time then, but that is also related to the way they were composed and that how they are displayed.
To conclude, dear professor, I think this is a special gift you have made us as admirers of your art and all those I see as part of it and of this community of your art-lovers, whom I hope will find time and opportunity to visit this exhibition. You have displayed a part of your works that have not been known by the public to date, works that could have been seen by very few people and, as you said, most of which are not created to be displayed in exhibitions, but they have been created as part of your inner process in search of a new development in those channels of your creativity. In fact, they are, so to say, the kitchen where a lot has been cooked and which was then served and offered to the public at times, with all the packaging that is missing here in this case, but all this is a very beautiful and very generous bouquet. I would avail myself of this opportunity for all those watching us now to advise, suggest, invite students, pupils, art students to come and visit this exhibition. It is a special opportunity to enter the kitchen of a great master and to read his creativity from a much more informal and much more confidential point of view, it is a confidential exhibition, it is not an exhibition that aims to generalize or permeate all the creativity of Sali Shijaku, but it is a confidential exhibition with many small-sized drawings that are part of a whole process.
Thank you very much professor for the generosity and effort you put into this initiative! Of course, thank you also your two sons, who are an integral part of your life, not only in terms of the father-son relationship, but also in terms of the care they have for your paper and ink creatures.
Many thanks to the three other professors, who are here today for making this concert with so few people of your chamber music so decent.
Respect for you. You put it quite well. What would you do as you grow older? Because it is quite clear what you are doing now and what is the most beautiful part of this creativity and those that are newly created is that they look like the works of a very curious child and remind me of Picasso who said, we need all life to become children, so aging is far from over!