This book is the first comprehensive monograph of the highly accomplished Albanian artist Edi Hila. His vast oeuvre, long overlooked, describes the political and social transformations of Eastern Europe over the last half century—its paradigm shifts, the pitfalls and temptations of consumerism, changes in visual culture—in a way that is markedly different from the familiar strains of pop banalism.
Reproducing a considerable number of Hila’s drawings and paintings since the early 1970s alongside his own writings, this monograph is published in conjunction with the retrospective exhibition “Edi Hila: Painter of Transformation” curated by Joanna Mytkowska, Kathrin Rhomberg, and Erzen Shkololli, which took place in Warsaw and Tirana in 2018. Essays by Edi Muka, Hila’s former student at the National Academy of Arts in Tirana and longstanding curatorial companion, and Adam Szymczyk, who invited Hila to participate in documenta 14 in 2017, investigate the way the artist translates the specificities of Albanian sociopolitical transformations into the language of art. Éric de Chassey, art historian and painting specialist, reflects on Hila’s realism as a particular artistic position within postwar European painting.