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Albania is not only a place of contrasts, troubled history and scenic landscapes, but also a destination that can surprise its visitors with a growing cultural life and a vibrant art scene dominated by young and passionate artists. Discover some of the contemporary art galleries from capital Tirana to Pogradec and Vlora.
Tirana Exkpres is perhaps the most notable local NGO active in the cultural field and an alternative option for those who wish to discover another side to the Albanian capital. Started as a voluntary project by a small group of dedicated professionals with the aim of creating high quality events, Tirana Ekpres is one of Tirana’s main cultural promoters today, attracting over 6,000 visitors of all ages. The gallery’s events vary from art exhibitions featuring contemporary artists from all over Europe to music concerts, film festivals such as Zoom (a shorts and documentary film night) or theater and dance spectacles like 5 Rhythms – The Wave Dance.
Having opened more than 50 years ago, the Albanian National Gallery of Art is the most representative cultural venue of its kind in Tirana and an excellent starting point for discovering the capital’s art scene. The National Gallery features temporary exhibitions of local and international contemporary artists, but also permanent collections of the most important Albanian artists, starting with the late 19th century and continuing with creations of the academically minded Drawing School, a major Albanian artistic movement from the first half of the 20th century. A major attraction is the collection of social realist paintings that translate into art the idea of the ‘New Man’ during the communist period, with the ‘common worker’ as the main recurrent personage.
The result of a bold and recent initiative, Tirana Art Lab is a one-of-a-kind presence in Albania’s cultural life. Founded four years ago, this contemporary art center aims to promote emerging artists from Albania as well as other Central, Eastern and Southern European countries. By organizing events such as residencies, exhibitions, workshops, lectures and talks, the center aims to act as a space for critical and reflexive thought that engages with Albanian reality and, in general, with the current neoliberal world order. In a very short period of time, Tirana Art Lab managed to become a popular fixture on Tirana’s art scene, representing artists such as Leone Contini, Haus am Gern, Nico Angiuli and Nikolin Bujari.
Tirana Art Lab Works across different venues in Tirana, +355692314995, +4917667606668
The first contemporary art center in Tirana, TICA is one of Albania’s main actors in promoting local creatives. The center organizes film festivals, exhibitions and the country’s most important art event – the Tirana International Contemporary Art Biennale that brought together artists from all over Europe in an attempt to promote and integrate contemporary art. TICA also supports international artist residency programmes with specific areas of focus, for example storytelling as an artistic practice. The programme attracted young participants from Eastern Europe, such as theater director Enton Kaca, Bosnian multimedia artist Adela Jušić and young Georgian painter Keto Logua.
TICA, Luigj Gurakuqi, Pall 89, Sh. A, Kati 12, Tirana, Albania
Opened in 2007, the Mezuraj Museum takes visitors on a journey through Albania’s past and present, featuring a vast archaeological collection, but also a modern art gallery with sculptures, drawings, paintings and watercolor creations by some of Albania’s most accomplished artists. The museum displays the works of top contemporary Albanian painters such as Artur Muhharemi, Helidon Haliti, Gazmend Ieka, Pano Kondo or sculptor Adnan Bushati. Moreover, its permanent exhibition also includes the paintings of Kole Idromeno, the founder of the Albanian painting school of realism from the late 19th century.
Located on the beautiful and less-known Albanian Riviera, in Vlora, the Promenade Gallery is a special art space with a vibrant art collection from various genres and techniques. Owned by a painter and enthusiastic art collector, the gallery aims to ‘foster new horizons in art’, but also ‘to restore Vlora’s dimension as one of the natural organic centers of the Mediterranean basin’. The gallery exhibits creations of artists such as Israeli video artist Yael Bartana, Swiss video artist Pipilotti Rist, also represented by Hauser Wirth, as well as creatives like Marco Fantini, Ardian Isufi, Rosa Barba and Albanian painter Alkan Nallbani.
Pogradec is a charming Albanian city on the coast of Lake Ohrid, in the eastern-central part of the country. A preferred holiday destination with many natural and cultural attractions, this location has several unmissable art galleries starting with the central city Pogradec Art Gallery. A series of small private contemporary art galleries complete the scene and help culture enthusiasts discover the rich creativity of local-born artists. Not to be missed are the Taso Gallery displaying the works of painter Anastas Konstandini-Taso, the Lako Gallery featuring the creations of Skender Laco and woodcarving studio Icka.