CONFLICTING VALUES

Chairs resemble to our bodies; sometimes they even take the shape of human bodies. It is not because they have just legs. They have feet, claws, arms, like us. Indeed, a chair can help to relax, but also express personal relationships. It can be a memorial, a gravestone image and, even more interestingly, it can be considered as an object that reconciles many conflicting values. It is because of this, that the writer Leora Auslander defines a chair as a “double agent” in her book Taste and Power.

Having a considerable number of artworks inspired by the conflicting values of chairs, armchairs, or thrones, in our collection, GALERIAKALO is organizing this 20th exhibition hoping to contribute to the awareness that the way we approach and sit on armchairs, and especially on thrones, sometimes may have an impact on our lives.

It is quite interesting that many internationally recognized artists, including Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Tony Oursler, Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier, etc. have paid special attention to chairs / armchairs in their creative activity. Chairs or armchairs in their artworks are presented, in most of the cases, as objects of comfort. They painted seated people or animals, in comfort, or seats or chars that are empty but ready to give comfort if you seated. Some other artists have expressed discomfort, fear or other feelings in their artworks. In contract with Van Gogh who painted an empty chair in his room, one of the masterpieces that many of us have seen in galleries, books, or media, as an object of comfort, part of interior of his room, Andy Warhol finds a completely different corner when he painted the electric chair. It is perhaps a call for protesting against death chair, and even wider, death penalty? Other artists have painted thrones as objects that people look at with great ambition. They are made for kings or other powerful people. But people look at empty thrones as vacant places where they can be seated, or at least they dream so. Temptation to becoming mighty. A throne, that simple piece of wood in appearance, may give you immense power to rule, power to control, power to possess everything on earth.

Albanian artists that GALERIAKALO selected for this special exhibition have approached comfort and power in an original manner.

Gazmend Leka in his artwork Armor describes through a symbol the situation of defense and might. The artist puts the armor as an object on a pedestal, as usually they do in museums.  The metaphor Leka is using in this painting shows how we can be influenced by the shadow of the mighty, the omnipotent. Although he is not on the pedestal himself, his “robe” left there, carelessly, suffices to scare people anyway, as it happens with the birds in the fields that are scared by the scare-craws.

Ardian Isufi in his work titled Discomfort uses a contemporary approach by considering the chair as part of the interior design, and the man seated on it, does not seem to exactly sit on the-for-sitting-place. He is staying like hanging and his meditation is somehow showing concern. He is concerned about the uncertainty of the future. He cannot sit because he thinks he is old to fit into the rather contemporary interior design. And because of this, he does not seem to feel very comfortable.

Genti Korini creates a metaphor in his painting Three chairs. It can be interpreted as a situation of competition between four or more people who run around the chairs to sit on the empty ones. So, it is likely he has got inspiration from the game “Sit on the empty chair” played in the social events, parties. Another point of view when looking at that painting could be the confusion that often is created when people do not know which chair is the leading one. Perhaps the artist wants to express his concern on the political uncertainty where often three poles, representing three parties or leaders, look through three different directions, thus leading you to nowhere. A kind of puzzle.

Merita Selimi deals with the wheel chairs, which is empty as person sitting on it, a woman, is now risen and standing. This setting is quite interesting as it gives the message of hope, message of loving life, firmness, which we see every day in the category of persons sitting on wheelchairs. The woman is accompanied by a bull, known for his might, and the bull inspires her to get on her feet; meanwhile she communicates with the wheelchair as if wants to tell “Dear chair, I can cross the mounting now”. It can be read as a thanking message for the care the wheelchair or something else took while she remained seated, but is seems a friendly communication, anyway.

The painting by Idlir Koka titled A dialogue prepared in advance is a kind of observation of the artist on false talks, where no emotions are conveyed, but rather, hypocrisy or superficial or deceptive way of presenting issues or views – a kind of approach that propaganda that used to exist mainly during communist regimes adopted. The talks in such arrangements is conducted by the two persons seated and the show has just two people, no audience. Only those who talk to each other. Other people are not needed. The setting, the show room is all needed. Above all, this whole concept is set by the organizers well in advance.

The throne by Mustafa Arapi transmits feelings of fear associated with the throne of the king, who died or abdicated. The soldiers surround the throne as if they do not want to let the successors to sit on it without ex lord giving permission. The other way of thinking one might have while looking at that painting is that the soldiers are keeping the throne intact so the heir of the king can sit there undisturbed.

 Choices, by the contemporary photo-artist German Julius Eb, is an abstract mirror of the options we may be offered in life. Whether a profession, a partner, social position or anything else is important – it is just us to judge and decide. For most of the people in a free society options are spontaneous. They are not offered through specific directions or structures – but like the red chairs here, randomly arranged on a green lawn.

The painting by Sidi Kanani Empty chair in the desert is not as simple as it looks. The artist may want to say that a chair in the middle of nowhere is not bringing any benefit to anyone. A chair, whether providing comfort or giving power, should not be isolated. It should be close to people, or at least other objects, otherwise it has no value, or is worth close to nothing.

 GALERIAKALO hopes that this exhibition displaying artworks focusing on a wide variety of chair as object and instrument of comfort and power, contributes to the awareness that sitting on armchairs, and especially on thrones, may have an impact on our lives.