Tirana Art Lab – Center for Contemporary Art presents
Double Feature #2
Alma Bakiaj & Viola Bittl
28 Mar – 2 May 2015
Opening: 28 March, 7 p.m
Double Feature is a new event format introduced by Tirana Art Lab with the aim of systematically displaying in our premises, two artistic positions to the Albanian, the regional and international audience. For the Double Feature #2 we will bring together the works of Albania-Greek artist Alma Bakiaj and the German artist Viola Bittl. This second Double Feature is dedicated to painting and introduces for the first time the oeuvre of two contemporary abstract painting positions to the Albanian audience.
Alma Bakiaj works with different mediums including painting, installation, photography and video art. In her practice she focuses on the research, observation and analyzes of different human conditions taking as a starting point her life and everyday experience. Her paintings are detailed observations on a specific behaviour, gesture, movement or act, allowing her at the same time to deeply engage with the subject and reach a certain level of abstraction resulting in what one could call “uncertain images”. What interests her is the involvement of the human condition as something incomplete, flawed and vulnerable. The white and black geometric shapes are not random data. They are the equivalent of all the relationships and connections of the human being with the world, representations of the creation and the cycle of life, desires and fears against unknown forces, and a “domino effect” of the society. For Bakiaj art is a process of self-effort of understanding the world through universal human values, always with a look to the outside world and the inner desires and the second one is her space of creation.
Her paintings aim at minimizing the apparent surfaces of objects, through a formal system levels and angles. She uses the technique of blurring of objects through a monochromatic colour. The objects do not have a normal configuration. They create multiple vanishing points. The shapes and lines vibrate together. If we could extend them mentally, they would create intersections. Each one of Bakiaj’s paintings observed separately constitutes an “uncertain image” while many of these pieces brought together have the potential to bring the viewer one step nearer to understanding the universe; as the sum of infinite connections and relationships of all the living beings contained in it. The exhibition will bring for the first time in Albania a collection of Bakiaj’s paintings created in recent years.
Though abstract to a high degree Viola Bittl’s paintings compositions and situations constitute little life sequences. The relationship between the objects, the way in which they approach, avoid, touch or keep distance from each other, their placement and attitude toward the background, can be read as the resembling of interhuman relation and their position within their surroundings and the world at large. Modest, obvious, reduced and silent, can her paintings appear at first glance; they hide themselves. They only reveal to the curious viewer what they conceal from the superficial eyes of random observers.
Their strength lies in their depth, beneath the surface, between the accurate layers that Viola Bittl has painted with such sensibility that at times we have the feeling we are staring beyond smooth skin surfaces. Her paintings usually small at scale are territories that develop backwards. Transporting us, from the surface to the depths behind the image, they have the potential to make the canvas (as a layer between creation and reality) disappear and can give the viewer the freedom of a contemplative journey, so needed in our contemporary reality of rapid consumerism. During her residency at Tirana Art Lab, Viola Bittl has produced new works on paper, which will be on display at the show. For the works on paper she uses a special technique, that of painting with nail polish and oil pastel, colours that allow her to maintain the transparency as a persisting characteristic of her oeuvre.
Alma Bakiaj born in 1984 in Albania moved as a child with her family to Thessaloniki Greece, where she perused her art studies. She graduated in Painting in 2008 from the Arts Department of the school of fine art at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki and studied further Critical Theory in Contemporary Art Practice at Chelsea College of Arts and Design at University of Art London. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from School of Plastic Arts at University of Ioannina, Greece. Her works have been showed in solo and group exhibitions, among others in institutions like Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art Thessaloniki, Action Field Kodra Thessaloniki, Embassy Tea Gallery London, The Crypt Gallery London, Antonopoulou Gallery Athens, XV Biennale de la Méditerranée BJCEM, Museum of Contemporary Art Thessaloniki. Bakiaj lives and works between Thessaloniki and London.
Viola Bittl born in 1980 in Bavaria, Germany. She studied at the Art Academy in Munich by professor Sean Scully and further studied and graduated in 2011 from Städelschule in Frankfurt/Main by Professor Christa Näher. In 2013 she was a scholarship holder of Else-Heiliger-Fonds, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Berlin and her works have been shown in solo and group exhibition among others in institutions like Kunsthaus Wiesbaden, Eigen+Art Lab Berlin, LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies, Columbia University New York, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Berlin, basis Frankfurt am Main, Zollamt, Museum of Modern Art Frankfurt/Main.
We would like to thank Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen for making possible the travel of artists Viola Bittl.