The current painting collection by Edi Hila is dedicated to the main boulevard in Tirana with its representative buildings – “Mother Teresa” square, the University, the Prime Minister’s office, and the remains of the fountains that once beautified and refreshed the surroundings and are now out of order.

The paintings of Boulevard, six or seven in total, follow the two cycles of paintings created before – that with the ‘portraits’ of disfigured houses (The Blue House, The House by the Sea, etc.) and the gray panoramas of the town of Rubik in Mirdita. In these elegant and masterful works, Hila conveys his vision of Albania in times of transition. He engages minimalistic expression means with a variety of pale colors: grey, blue, and earthy tones. The composition focuses on objects created by the human mind and hand, but we can discern no trace, not even a shadow of a human being in them. Indeed, these panoramic views of the wild urbanization feel like deserted objects immersed in a dark and mysterious atmosphere of uselessness, emptiness, and sadness.

In 2004, Edi Muka called this approach “the mysticism in Hila’s paintings.” The cycle Boulevard strives, meanwhile, to reach a sublime peak of this “mysticism” that could, probably, be translated into the idea of the hidden or missing creator, analogous to Deus Absconditus, that could be the God or, even before it, his imitator, the Man, that appears in this position as the messenger of the overall entropy.

Hila’s pictorial approach in Boulevard leads to the further tightening of the eidetic reduction of the image in the most essential constructive forms that become, in turn, an emanation of the respective objects per se (the buildings, the fountains, the trees in the park…). The images, with their views from various points of the boulevard, lack not only human beings, cars, living creatures, and other moving objects; they also lack other details that the author has considered visually redundant and that, nevertheless, are sometime replaced by forests and imaginary objects.

Hila stops at the monumental contours of the objects and space, composing them with an impressive balance, to the point that he takes their weight away by washing them out and fading them away turning them into etheric. Moreover, he avoids every sign or content that would give out the boulevard as the main artery of the capital city and pathway of mobility that hosts lines of cars, people, tourists that hurry up to do things or stroll at their leisure, the boisterous masses that get together for holidays, demonstrations, protests, fairs to eat and buy, etc.

The images of Hila’s Boulevard, are, meanwhile, all frozen, at a zero ontological stage, like they have just emerged out of the half-darkness and half-spark of the first ray of light just before the sunrise when the city is still sleeping and nothing in it moves or makes a sound. Even in the only painting that should have projected movement as the entry to the boulevard is occupied by a pinky joyous festive procession, even there the freeze rules and turns the procession into a mirage.

I think that in his Boulevard Hila looks at Tirana through the eyes of the Angel of Remembering that are at the same time – at the dried up fountains deformed into ruins of the dreams of a brutally deceptive utopia, – also the eyes of the Angel of Sadness that find consolation nowhere, even though he (Hila) continues to mull over the creative act that tries to build the bridge of understanding with arches that no one knows whether they will reach the other shore of the fogginess where the icy and annihilating winds of entropy blow from.

Shkëlzen Maliqi