Celebrating the Legacy of Rexhep Ferri: A Pillar of Albanian Art

Honoring the Life and Work of the Renowned Painter and Academician

Today, at Votra Magazine, we honor the life of one of the greatest painters in Albanian art, academician Rexhep Ferri, who passed away at the age of 86. Ferri’s mastery of brush and canvas, coupled with his literary prowess, carved a distinctive place for him in the pantheon of Albanian art.

Rexhep Ferri was born in Kukës in 1937. In 1958, he graduated from the High School of Art in Pejë, and in 1966, he completed his studies in painting at the Academy of Arts in Belgrade. Between 1974 and 2005, he served as a lecturer at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Pristina. Ferri’s illustrious career includes numerous independent exhibitions: at the Graphic Collective Gallery in Belgrade (1968 and 1973), at the Darte II Cenacolo Gallery in Vicenza, Italy (1969), at the Cultural Center Gallery in Belgrade (1976), at the Lambert Gallery in Paris (1977), at the National Museum Gallery in Niš (1980), at the Art Gallery in Pristina (1982), at the Art Gallery in Sarajevo (1983), at the Vakko Gallery in Izmir, Ankara, and Istanbul (1989), at the Vakko Gallery in Istanbul (1998), at the National Gallery in Tirana (2001), and at the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Kosovo (2020), among others.

 A Tree with Two Trunks

“I cannot understand myself without my presence in Albania. One part of my trunk has lived here, another part in Kosovo,” – Rexhep Ferri.

In 1996, he was elected as a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Kosovo, and in 2000, he became a regular member of this Academy. Ferri has published nine titles summarized in his selected literary works. In 1971, he received the Award of the Year from the Assembly of Kosovo, and in 2012, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Albania’s Independence, he was awarded the title of Honorary Citizen of Vlora.

On the occasion of his 80th birthday, his personal exhibition featuring selected works was opened at the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Kosovo.

The Artist’s Philosophy

“White with colors. White is not just white; it is cold white, hot white that ranges from coffee to milk, but sometimes the painter should not become a slave to color. He must express it, like the soldier on the front who fights with what he has. When I paint in the small studio of the Gallery of Arts, I create small paintings, but when I go to my spacious studio, I create large paintings.” – Rexhep Ferri 

One of Ferri’s earliest works from 1967 is “The Message.” The atmosphere of his exhibitions often reflects the idea of their titles: “Far and Near,” expressing a natural feeling generated by the artistic development in Albanian-speaking regions since the early 20th century. Rexhep Ferri was born in Kukës on October 10, 1937. His family and life spanned almost the entire northern Albanian Alps. Ferri completed high school in Pejë in 1958 and graduated in painting from the Academy of Arts in Belgrade in 1966. His creativity flourished in two parallel fields: painting and literature, which developed simultaneously. In 1962, he published his first poems in the book “Late Wanderers,” and in 1967, he held his first solo exhibition at the Cultural Center Gallery in Prishtina. In 1974, he was appointed as a lecturer at the Faculty of Arts in Prishtina, and in 2000, he was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Kosovo. A monograph on his work was also published at the Academy.

Legacy of a Modernist

Academician Rexhep Ferri belongs to the artists who formed their style through rigorous study and exploration within the disciplines of global modernism.

“Here, at last, is a painter who does not compromise with the public and, responding to a call for deep and imperial clarity, despite his youth, announces an exemplary breakthrough. His name is Rexhep Ferri. Even more than his canvases, his ink drawings create characters and massive, deformed, and bare mountains, yet with a presence that captivates. The characters, often without half their heads, with schematized bodies and limbs, are trapped and enclosed in their existence.” (“Le Monde”, November 28, 1977, Paris – The Myth of Man). – Jean-Marie Dunoyer

“Sitting in his armchair, I saw a life filled with work. From painting to text, Rexhep Ferri belongs to the generation that raised our artistic scene. Forever grateful for his contribution.” – Albin Kurti

Rexhep Ferri’s life and work leave an indelible mark on the world of Albanian art. 

His dedication to his craft and his unwavering pursuit of artistic excellence continue to inspire new generations of artists.

Ferri’s canvases, whether through the interplay of colors or the poetic strokes of his brush, narrate stories of cultural heritage and artistic innovation.

As we remember his legacy, we celebrate not only his contributions to art but also the cultural heritage he has helped to preserve and promote.

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