Marubi pictures make debut U.S. showcase

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 23, 2017 19:00

Marubi pictures make debut U.S. showcase

Story Highlights

  • Gjergj (George) Pali, an artist from Shkodra who managed to flee the country in the late 1980s just before the country's hardline communist regime was collapsing and has been living in the U.S. ever since opening dozens of exhibitions, says he is happy he is inaugurating his GR gallery in Stamford, Connecticut, with the Marubi exhibition

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Funeral ceremony, Kel Marubi, 1937

TIRANA, March 23 – More than a hundred pictures of the famous 19th and early 20th century Marubi photo collection are being showcased in Connecticut at a gallery run by an Albanian artist in their first trip to the U.S. where an estimated 200,000 people of Albanian roots live.

Gjergj (George) Pali, an artist from Shkodra who managed to flee the country in the late 1980s just before the country’s hardline communist regime was collapsing and has been living in the U.S. ever since opening dozens of exhibitions, says he is happy he is inaugurating his GR gallery in Stamford, Connecticut, with the Marubi exhibition.

“It’s a great pleasure to inaugurate this gallery and successfully conclude this initiative with friends from Shkodra to have Marubi here,” says Pali, a 60 year-old artist who a couple of years ago came back to Albania with an exhibition in Tirana.

Curator Vladimir Myrtezaj described Pali’s May 2015 “Journey” exhibition in Tirana as an intensive artistic research, a fertile imagination, which combines well the genres of painting and collage.

“His work rests upon two main pillars: one is a current of subconscious reminiscence closely related to music, which he often transforms in a thoroughly instrumental form in his paintings, while the second comes from the author’s traumatic journey during which he often considers the origin of life describing it through an openly tragic humor in his paintings,” says the curator about Pali, who escaped Albania for political and artistic reasons in January 1988 at a time when people crossing the border were also executed, imprisoned and had their families interned.

Lucian Bedeni, the director of the Marubi national photo museum in Shkodra, says the exhibition serves promoting cultural heritage.

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Ships at docks, Kel Marubi, 1913

“At a time when everybody seems interested in politics, we should not lose focus on promoting cultural heritage such as Marubi,” Bedeni told VoA in the local Albanian service.

The “Life in images” exhibition features 150 black and white pictures portraying men and women from all social classes in their daily life at the end of the 19th century, when the first Albanians migrated to the U.S.  The pictures reveal a people anchored to their traditions, fierce guardians of their identity, set against the backdrop of the flourishing city of Shkodra, says curator Zef Paci.

The selected pictures are part of the newly restored Marubi national museum of photography in Shkodra, home to 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.

The exhibition at Gjergj Pali’s GR Gallery in Connecticut will remain open for four months until July 17.

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 followed 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.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 23, 2017 19:00