I intended today to post about the memorial to the dead British soldiers that sits in Tirana’s slightly dilapidated park. But the rain is Biblical, so instead I thought I’d write a quick post on Tirana’s slightly dilapidated national gallery.
There are signs up saying photography is strictly prohibited but, being a maverick who’s not afraid to break a few rules, I sneakily took a few photos of my favourite Socialist Realist artworks, which you can see here.
I should point out that the picture at the top of this post isn’t in the gallery. It’s by Robert Permeti and is for sale at the addictive political and revolutionary art website ArtImport. Named “The Abyss”, it was painted in the late Seventies and captures a meeting between Hoxha and Brigadier “Trotsky” Davies, who led the SOE mission to Albania from October 1943 to early January 1944. The story goes that Hoxha’s wife, Nexhmije, didn’t quite get the point, and asked Permeti to cut it in half (i.e. to remove Davies). He refused.
Last November I met one of Hoxha’s favourite artists, Lec Shkreli. Interestingly, none of his paintings are on show in the national gallery, though it has plenty stored away somewhere. Ironically, it seems that he’s out of favour with the current regime… I mean government. Plus ça change. I’ll write a more in-depth post about Lec, and what life was like for artists under Hoxha, further down the line.