by Remzije J. Zekolli
Writing about important national personalities whose own works have had a profound impact in the world of art is not an easy task at all. Albanians, as a nationality of not many people, have still contributed to the world distinguished personalities in different fields. These personalities, as a national or international elite are recognized for their achievements by their families, neighborhoods and wider community. These remarkable personalities are present in different fields such as politics, education, art, culture, science, sports, and other areas.
Historically, these personalities starting with Skanderbeg, Garibaldi, Aleksander Mojsiu, Mother Teresa, Martin Camaj, Ismail Kadare, Bekim Fehmiu, Gazmend Freitag, Eliza Dushku, Rita Ora, Lorik Cana and many others, even though they lived or live far away from their country, had worked or are working and have represented or are representing the Albanian nation with dignity. These personalities illuminate everything around them, while walking along the surroundings they lived at one time or live today.
The four winds blew these personalities away to different countries, where they found peace and attained their achievements. Although they belong to the world elite, addressing the world public all the time, they reiterate and exalt their origin with pride.
One of these brilliant personalities who is leaving his mark in the art of painting is maestro Gazmend Freitag, who loves art with all his heart. His work is characterized by his commitment to achieve what he wants to put in a painting; he knows how to skillfully enter into the secrets of art, penetrating to its depths same as someone penetrates to the depths of an ocean and yet never drowns, and always floating safe on the surface drawing pictures, portraits and marvelous landscapes that themselves convey noble messages to the public. Indeed, isn’t love something saintly and noble that frames his fascinating art? His paintings are distinguished by their richness, force and miracles that amaze art gallery visitors. In his private life, the painter is a gentle character who knows how to win people’s hearts and minds.
Austrian human activist Marianne Graf, who was in Kosovo during the war and is in the field helping its people, talks about the figure of the painter. In sign of her recognition, the artist gives her a portrait painted of her. In my opinion, the painter has done a job for his country. In response, the distinguished Austrian humanitarian stated on that occasion, as did others: “It came to me as a surprise. It is something special to have my portrait painted by an artist like Gazmend. He is also a humanitarian worker, never boring and always interested in humanitarian campaigns. He is graceful on the stage. Thank you! Hugs!”
The March-April 2014 edition of “Effetto Arte” features in the “Grandi Maestri” Section of this prestigious Italian art magazine positive criticism from Caterina Randazzo:
“Gazmend Freitag is an artist who knows the secrets of figuration well and uses them to create amazing works. His paintings, and especially his portraits express the emotions that he has observed in his surroundings and opens up new stylistic dimensions. The figures drawn by painter Gazmend Frietag should be seen as an outlet of his talent and creativity. In fact, the artist’s canvases reconstruct reality, strongly emphasizing the particularity of the faces he portrays. His compositional syntax follows the rules of art teaching and is complemented with observations that emphasize the romantic”.
His figure is unique. He is courageous at his exhibitions, often coming with the nude paintings he specialized in producing for two semesters at the Linz University of Art with Professor Mag. Art. Annelies Oberdanner. This aspect makes Gazmend different from other Albanian painters. He receives invitations to exhibit his paintings in Austrian, Italian and Slovakian art galleries. His astonishing drawings have a scent and can be sensed in numerous motifs. His drawing style is unique, not borrowed. Original and human, artistic in general. In a word, he has his own identity.
Our painter has successfully presented his work at his own personal exhibitions – twice in Vienna, once in Linz – and also participated in the first Verona Biennale International Exhibition, in Bratislava and in other towns, as well as in some collective exhibitions. In all them he successfully presented his own work and, at the same time, Albanian artistic work.
Recently his exhibition titled “Beautiful moments” was hosted in Vienna, while on February 2, 2016 his second personal exhibition will open in Vienna, organized by Kunstprojekte, whose president is counselor and psychotherapist Ms. Ursula Pfeiffer.
Gazmend, a buddy of my generation, is strongly following the footsteps of the great Albanian actor Aleksander Moisiu, who even today is considered a legend in the theater world. The great German actor Albert Bassermann, upon placing a ring on Moisiu’s body said: “I deliver to you Infland’s ring. You deserved it, dear Moisi”. He added, “He took the Infland with him, but he left behind his invaluable treasure in the work that continues to illuminate like a diamond in the horizon” (RZ).
The painter proves his noble affection for the great Albanian actor by contributing the symbolic sum of €1000 to finance the reediting of ”Moisiu and Moisiu”, a book written by Kosovar journalist Shaqir Foniqi. The painter has donated ten copies of this book, written in Albanian, to the library in Linz, where he currently lives.
Drawing a parallel between these two distinguished personalities of my nation, the great actor Misiu and the painter Gazmend whose pursuits to achieve further successes in painting, I, as a writer, find it both difficult and complex. Their noble work often makes their paths meet, but there are also moments when their paths diverge. Gazmend is still young. With his God-given talent and his undefeated character, he will reach the heights Moisi reached. This is how I know and remember my dear pal Gazmend.
Parallels between the two are that both of them are Albanians who worked abroad. Both of them were compelled to migrate against their will. They lived in Austria. They have in common their gentle nature and stage elegance. Moisiu performed in more than 200 roles; Gazmend has painted around 1000 paintings, Moisiu starred in 12 movies, Gazmend has held 20 exhibitions, of which four were personal ones. Moisiu wrote the play “The Prisoner”, while Gazmend financed has published “Moisiu and Moisiu”. Aleksander performed at the Vienna theatre, while Gazmend has held three personal exhibitions and many collective ones.
As we can notice, drawing a comparison between the two, we observe that Moisiu wrote a novel and a few stories, which Gazmend has yet to do. Since Gazmend is still young, with élan and commitment, I am fully convinced that when it comes to success and fame, he will reach the heights of the great Moisiu.
I am certain an autobiography written by this great painter of ours would be most welcomed by his numerous admirers. Before he had painted even for ten years, with twenty exhibitions behind him, Gazmend achieved solid success, and his exhibitions are paving their way towards putting him among the top world painters.
It remains a moral obligation in both Albania and Kosovo to have an exhibition open in both Tirana and Pristina, as the artist’s his creative work has brought Albanian painting to new heights throughout the world.