Sislej Xhafa, is an Albanian artist from Kosovo, whose work provokes the social ideology, attitude, and reception of immigration, among others.
It has aroused much controversy since 2003 with Padre / father / baba / pate Pio, artwork carried out by Sisley Xhafa (Pec, 1970, lives in New York) on the occasion of the exhibition The Nature of Art, a traveling exhibition curated by Achille Bonito Oliva, which took place in different areas of the Campania region. The work of the Albanians was then placed in San Lorenzello (BN), by the side of other site-specific works of international renowned artists who have participated in the project, such as Enzo Cucchi, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Ettore Spalletti and John Armleder. The work, while not being provocative, still made quite a stirr, dealing with a religious theme and therefore a very delicate matter. The fulcrum of the controversy lies in the similarity that the gigantic face of Padre Pio would have with an extra-terrestrial, and the place deemed “unfit” to a holy work. Thus, a blasphemy act that some have attributed to Xhafa, who instead would have simply given his interpretation of the portrayed Saint having always had “a direct relationship with reality, with respect and sensitivity to the locals … it is the people themselves who make the living landscape so beautiful. ” A great responsibility, the one taken by this Albanian artist, who never wanted to offend the people with whom he shared his art, but rather to pay homage and to share his work. A new icon then, a new image of the world’s most popular saint, which will arouse controversies about himself up until America. In fact the work flew to Canada and more specifically in Toronto, at The Power Plant, which hosts high level contemporary art exhibitions since 1987. Many artists have exhibited here, including Christian Boltanski, Louise Bourgeois, Tony Cragg, Anish Kapoor and Nancy Spero. Sisley Xhafa therefore will participate in the collective Rearview Mirror – New Art from Central and Eastern Europe, curated by Christopher Eamon focused on works from artists of the “new” generation of Central and Eastern Europe. Some names? Pawel Althamer, Anetta Mona Chisa, Anna Molska, Deimantas Narkevicius and Johnson & Johnson, all gathered in one big exhibition in which past and future are viewed – as the title suggests it- through the “mirror”. - via FORDPROJECT
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