Unknown Idromeno pictures come to light
- "There is no accurate date for the pictures that will be put on display at the Marubi museum. It is likely that they were taken between 1892 to 1894 when Idromeno worked on a series of paintings focused on the relationship between the good and the evil or suffering caused by sin," says curator Paci, a 47-year-old Shkodra-based artist who represented Albania at the 2014 Venice Biennale
TIRANA, Jan. 10 – Previously unexhibited pictures by early 20th century Albanian master Kole Idromeno that came to light during the restoration of the landmark Marubi photo museum and its rich collection in the northern Albanian city of Shkodra will be showcased in a late January exhibition featuring Idromeno, mostly known as painter, sculptor and architect.
The “Idromeno’s Two Roads” exhibition curated by internationally renowned Albanian contemporary artist Adrian Paci will showcase twelve Idromeno pictures and a painting believed to date back to the late 19th century.
“There is no accurate date for the pictures that will be put on display at the Marubi museum. It is likely that they were taken between 1892 to 1894 when Idromeno worked on a series of paintings focused on the relationship between the good and the evil or suffering caused by sin,” says curator Paci, a 47-year-old Shkodra-based artist who represented Albania at the 2014 Venice Biennale.
“The pictures do not document real life moments, but picture role-plays which Idromeno would later use for his painting compositions,” adds Paci, who in 2015 opened an art gallery in his hometown of Shkodra.
“In most cases, the pictures involve pain and torture that devil-like men inflict on their victims symbolizing sinners. The exhibition also features a painting with two devils cutting the tongue to a man while burning in the hell flames, a painting directly related to one of the photos. This makes one think that even the other pictures are either studies on paintings that were never created or served as a model for paintings that were lost,” he adds.
In an article accompanying the exhibition, the curator say the exhibition does not aim to analyze the wide spectrum of Idromeno’s career. “Instead, it seeks to use the discovery of unknown photographs in the Marubi archive as a starting point to create a dialogue between these photographs and his famous painting ‘Dy rrugët’ (The Two Roads).”
St. Peter, St. Paul with the Four Evangelists and another painting depicting the pains of hell are some of the unknown Idromeno works retrieved from the Marubi photo collection restoration that will be put on display.
“There is an impressive expressiveness and a sense of bewilderment that can be found in the photographs as opposed to the paintings; it seems as though something has been lost from the power of the image through the use of paint on canvas, the elaboration of colors, delineation of anatomy and the intentional deformation of figures,” adds the curator.
Kol Idromeno is the initiator of the Albanian painting school of realism in the 19th and 20th centuries. His first teacher was renowned Pjeter Marubi, the founder of Marubi Photo Collection in Shkodra.
Idromeno is known for his ethnographic compositions. In 1883, he created the first Albanian realistic picture known as “Motra Tone,” (Sister Tone), considered a masterpiece of the Albanian painting, both of Renaissance and Independence periods.
The exhibition at the newly restored Marubi national museum of photography, home to 500,000 photos and negatives tracing the beginning of Albanian photography in the 19th century by capturing life and historic events in Albania and the region, will be open for three months from January 26 until April 30.
Albanian photography started with Pietro Marubi, an Italian immigrant fleeing political repression from his country. He opened Albania’s first photography studio in 1858. Three generations of Marubis will follow in his footsteps. For about a century, the Marubi family amassed more than 500,000 negatives. The selection of pictures reveals the political, social, cultural and religious diversity of the country.
Painter, photographer and architect Kolë Idromeno (1860-1939) is perhaps the best-known of the early figures of Albanian painting. He was born in Shkodra and began drawing and doing water colours at an early age (1871-1874). With the help of Pjetër Marubi, from whom he also learned the art of photography, he was able to travel to Venice in 1875 to attend the Academy of Fine Arts, but he did not survive the rigors of formal training and gave up after six months. He remained in Venice, though, and worked for a couple of years as the assistant to an established Venetian painter, returning to Albania in 1878. In 1883, he opened a photo studio with cameras imported from the Pathé company in France.
In 1912, he became the first person in Albania to import moving picture equipment and to show films. In August of that year, he signed a contract with the Josef Stauber company in Austria to set up the country’s first, rudimentary public cinema. As a painter, Idromeno preferred urban subjects, such as in his Dasma shkodrane (Wedding in Shkodra), 1924, but also did portraits of intellectuals and nationalist figures. Particularly well-known is the portrait of his half-veiled Motra Tone (My
Sister Tone), 1883. Landscapes and religious subjects also occur. His paintings were shown at international art exhibitions in Budapest (1898), Rome (1925), Bari (1931), Rome (1936) and New York (1939). Kolë Idromeno is also remembered as a sculptor and as an architect of public buildings in Shkodra. (Bio by Robert Elsie, a Canadian specialist in Albanian studies.)