An intimate look at the Albanian way of life

Albanian painter Gazmend Freitag

The annual Day of the Open Embassies is all about taking a closer look at the history and culture of diverse countries. It provides the opportunity to exchange points of view and to engage visitors in ways unique to the host nation. The Albanian Embassy in the Fourth District of Vienna chose to nurture the already friendly relationship with Austria by inviting the well known Albanian painter Gazmend Freitag to show his work. Gazmend Freitag, who lives and works in Linz, is well known for his colorful and sensual paintings in the tradition of the European Impressionists and his drawings of famous Albanian personalities. In his third exhibit at the embassy grounds the artist provided once again an intimate look at the Albanian way of life. His paintings and graphics, many of them in the national colors of red and black, are clearly inspired by the traditions of his people and join into a mosaic of historical and ethnographic pictures. The journey begins at Mitrovica in the North to Gjirokastër in the South, from the times of the national hero Gjergj Kastriot Skenderbeg, admired as protector of Christianity, to the event images of the Cold War and provides insight into the spirit of the Albanian people.

Examples are the black and white shadows of the sword dance, a dance for men only characteristic of the northern border regions; the loveliness of the light in the maternal lullaby, which is transformed into song by the play of color and light; and the gallant soul of the Albanian man in his conduct towards his wife as shown in „Die Braut von Mitrovica“.

The paintings open in addition a window into the early history of the Albanian people and their national heroes: Gjergj Kastrioti, who organized for 25 long years an effective resistance along the Albanian border regions against the advance of the Osmanian Empire towards Western Europe, and Pjetër Bogdani, the enlightened catholic priest of the seventeenth century, celebrated as one of the first authors in the early Albanian literature and language.

Of interest is the drawing of the crashed plane at the fortress of Gjirokastër, a rusty relic from the times of the Cold War and of the long years of isolation in the former communist Albania.

Pjetër Bogdani by Gazmend Freitag, 2016
Die Braut von Mitrovica by Gazmend Freitag, 2017
Gjergj Kastriot Skenderbeg by Gazmend Freitag, 2013
Albanian with Horse by Gazmend Freitag, 2014
Albanian Goodies by Gazmend Freitag, 2013
Dance of the Heavy by Gazmend Freitag, 2013
Airplane on Fortress by Gazmend Freitag, 2011
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