Destan and Barbara: A Journey Through Art and Love

From Venice to Vienna: How a Chance Encounter Sculpted a Lifetime of Artistic Collaboration and Devotion

Destan and I first crossed paths on a sunlit day in the summer of 1981 in Venice. We were both travelers on distinct paths; he was on his way back to his beloved Kosovo, and I, armed with an Interrail ticket, was exploring the broad tapestry of Europe. Captivated by Destan’s passionate tales of Albania and Kosovo, I found myself drawn into his world, ultimately deciding to accompany him back to Kosovo. That week, exploring the historic streets of Prizren and Pejë and marveling at the natural beauty of the “White Drin,” was just the beginning of a lifetime of shared adventures.

Authored by Barbara Gashi

By autumn of that same year, Destan moved to Brussels, a city ripe with artistic fervor, to chase his dream of mastering Sculpture at the Academie of Fine Arts, where he had earlier studied Painting. Inspired by his dedication, I followed him to Brussels. There, I immersed myself in French for a year before joining him at the academy to study Painting in 1982.

Destan was not just a student but a virtuoso in the making, especially revered in the Master Class of Sculpture. His innate ability to breathe life into clay and stone was mesmerizing. He approached sculpture with a surgeon’s precision and a poet’s soul, understanding that each chisel stroke was a commitment set in stone.

Our student life was humble, yet rich with artistic fervor and deep, unwavering love. Together, we navigated the challenges of art and life, each day strengthening our bond and honing our crafts. In 1985, Destan’s talents were recognized with a Diploma in Sculpture and three esteemed awards: the Prix d’Excellence de la Ville de Bruxelles, the Prix de Doutrelon de Try, and the Medal from the City of Brussels.

After completing my studies in 1987, we chose Vienna as our home—a place where both our dreams and love could flourish. Destan embarked on his journey as a freelance sculptor, while I began my new chapter in a museum. Over the years, our life in Vienna has been a tapestry woven with success and mutual support, marked by numerous exhibitions that celebrated Destan’s art across Europe. His works, now gracing both private collections and public spaces, are a testament to his profound skill and vision.

Destan’s deep connection to Kosovo has never waned, despite decades abroad. His most heartfelt exhibition at the National Library of Prishtina in 2014 allowed him to showcase his sculptures in his homeland for the first time, sharing his art with those who had not seen his works before. It was a profoundly emotional homecoming, not just for Destan, but for me as well—to see the pride and joy in the eyes of his countrymen.

Every day with Destan is a reminder of how art isn’t just about creating; it’s about living, loving, and sharing those creations with the world. His passion for his craft and his love for his homeland continue to inspire all who encounter his work and his story.

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