Elis Gjoni was born on 1988 in the city of Puka. From his childhood he moved to live in Tirana Albania, where he finished his studies at Artistic Liceum “Jordan Misja”. After several challenges, in 2009 begins his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts (today University of the Arts), where he graduates in 2014 majoring in Atelierin e Multimedia-s. During his studies he has had several artistic experiences, participating in several exhibitions locally and internationally. He has also been an accomplice in the theater, in short films, workshops, documentaries and television.Currently he lives in the U.S.A.
Elis Gjoni has developed a fairly authentic language video media and installation in particular, giving objects that he uses a character that transforms them into subjects that self-confess. He is one of those young artists that deserve attention, because his first steps are really qualitative.
Exclusive Interview with Elis Gjoni- Painter & Filmmaker
NY Glam: Tell us a little about yourself and your career beginnings.
I was born in a village called “Iballe” which lies in North Albania. If I had to compare it with any figurative example, it would be “The Starry Night” of Vincent Van Gogh. I would define my childhood with the words they would be “impresses me”. my interest for art started very early since in my primary school, as I had a gift in writing, later in Music and at last I found myself interested in painting and drawing. To be honest, I was confused about what I really wanted to do. It was the professional high school “ Jordan Misja” that gave me the right direction about the history of Art and the picture. Colors like dark brown, white and yellow were the colors that gave me character when I used them in each canvas of that study time.
After the end of the school, I managed to receive an answer about the picture, the style, and the colors that I mentioned above. And I found out that I liked the “Earth”
University of Arts was a real challenge to the “unknown”. It was the moment that I would find myself connected with the concept of “abstraction”. I had some mystical questions inside me about the image, the color, the touching, feelings etc. I was so enthusiastic that I have created much more than I can create for the rest of my life. After a year of studies at the university, I lead myself to multimedia. During my different experiments I was more and more interested into video Art and installation.Video Art was the best spiritual poem that I could bring out of myself. In general, the ideas of my video art have come as a result of an inner concern , whereas the installation as an out concern. Like every new artist during the university studies, I have been through some different experiences such as; participation in short film competitions, theatre and of course exhibitions.
NY Glam: What projects are you currently working on?
I am working on a personal exhibition which I called “Everything but Tomato”. It is a long process which has taken me about 3 years. I am trying to include video art, installation and ready made. “Everything but Tomato” is a metaphor taken from fast food places where I had to work, my experience there made me understand how people pick what they like and what they don’t like. What impresses me the most is that the same thing happens in the World of Art, where not intentionally we choose to listen or see what is more visual and more popular.
NY Glam: What art do you most identify with?
Video art and installation are the techniques that I have stopped and I am experimenting in different expressions, thoughts feelings and touching. Mechanic movements of objects throughout electricity gives me an internal satisfaction, I feel the creation of the object from non existing into existing. The biography and the instinct are my most important columns inside me. I come from an expressive biography, full of events and features, I come back from time to time and I find old marks like in a canvas, I return them in the most minimalist way possible. Object with no value, are the ones are the ones that wake my instinct up through changing them into valuable ones, maybe not exactly as they used to be but a new face of movements and concepts. Most of my work I have found in different situations, through working in building houses, through studies, traveling, shooting movies, meeting other people who poke you emotionally. A lot of this work contains naivety, courage, press-ion and you go into a new space like a double gravity. the aim of my concepts is to go exactly where it is thought there is nothing to discover.
NY Glam: What themes do you pursue?
The thing that connects my works with each other or let say the style is the illusion, the desire to turn the creation into a magical one , in order to astonish the others, to be unique in its kind. In fact, I take care a lot for the esthetic view of the creation, why not I would call myself minimalist.
Concerns according to technology, different politics , what is right and what is not, restrictions etc are some factors that characterized many of my works and these factors have to reply in ironic and “naïve” way.
NY Glam: What’s your favorite art work?
History is one of my works that gave me the chance to be direct, different from other works. It is a moment inside you, that knows your artistic strength of formation and you are ready to share it with others like an argument, that , when I understood about the commercial at the same time I understood that I was concerned about how commercial is so present, selling, and so advertised. The irony leads me to a picture, as you have observed, which is very present everywhere especially in Albania, selling so much copies and so cheap because it is printed and it is just a dye to deceive others as a true one. The meter that measures the centimeters, during all the time is the clear indicator of the irony in front of the customization of the detailed treatment of the box and the seniority that are part of the style that all my works carry. The dialogue between the work and the viewers did not have many question-marks because like the title and the installation itself were very clear about the message, and we welcomed it as an appeal.
Getting started from the history of the picture with its styles of painting that great artists inherited them to us in order to take them to other generations, it is exactly here where the concern of “copy right” and “multiplier” of artistic values starts and it is becoming a winning way in Art
NY Glam: Tells us about some of your recent exhibitions. What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Before traveling towards the United States I came with a group achievement where we made an exhibition called “At home”, It was special because of the simple fact that it was made on a livable house. It was a shot towards the politic system in Albania to support young artists, public spaces and against power abuse. After this huge step for me, I was invited to an even bigger event, a work shop organized in Monodendri, Joannina Greece.It was one of the experiences that I couldn’t miss for any reason. At the time that I was there I created on of my best performances.The Greek legends and philosophy were the first harasses and then the enchanted nature sent me to the” Double Gravity” performance.
After I moved to Massachusetts in 2017, I really wanted to present some of my art work so I started looking around for some possible art galleries that I could be a part of. It didn’t take long and the right opportunity came, uncertainty principle at Fbac gallery hosted by Renee Ricciardi had me as one of their guests. Throughout my artistic experiences I have also experimented on short movies, one of them being “The Last Journey”. In 2018 I was part of the Albanian film week in New York where I presented my Short movie “The Last Journey”.
In 2019 I was part of ARTExchange pop up, NY where I presented one of my minimal work “Medium”. It was an interesting experience, I had never been exposed to an event like this before.
NY Glam: Tell us about one of your projects which you are very proud of.?
One of the projects that really made me know what Im capable of doing was at “Tirana 48hr film Project 2011” where I represented my movie “Twins” and got two awards, best movie and best director. I felt really proud of myself, It was such a great accomplishment for a young artist like me.
NY Glam: What does “being creative” mean to you?
Being creative to me usually comes as a concern which takes over me and I lose in the instincts world, It connects me to the Past, The present and The future. To combine your daily routine with being creative is a really modest thing to do especially for the life that I have chosen to live .
NY Glam: What are you trying to communicate with your art?
I prefer to communicate through ready made , I try to bring whats inside of us not fully built and naive. I don’t like to be very conceptual meanwhile the objects that I use are simple, livable with the era that we are livng in, is really easy to present at this time. I think that in now days communication is really creating a huge gab between the public and the artist and also from the art work and the artist.In my opinion the art work should be able to communicate itself.
NY Glam: What role does the Artist have in Society?
In my opinion we are living at a time where the artist is not alone, Its a huge mass of people which have found, maybe without realizing an artistic “nest”. I started this by saying that we are not alone, I also want to say that we are included without realizing in a group of people that are making new researches towards social media.If I would take an example in the evolution of social networks, the way how they act to catch as much attention as possible, or to be valued as an object or event, it comes exactly from non-existing , reminds me Joseph Beuys who says:”every man is an artist”.we are living in a world that i think that everyone is creating and absolutely it is not a bad thing. contrary, we are all going together toward feelings, culmination and toward the unknown. i would like to refer to a sentence that happens to hear it a lot: if i knew it before… this is the moment of the instinctive research. i think that non-existing is around us, we can feel it, touch it. if i say we can see it, i mean it has to be seen in another point of view. rebuilding of an object with another function, not used to be, but with setting in a new space. these gives me satisfaction and i would say that it is the climax of creativity and of a new concept.
NY Glam: What are your thoughts on being an artist in today’s world?
If you are able to be remembered as an artist at this time you are definitely going to be the greatest artist of all times.
NY Glam: How has painting influenced your life?
I have been lucky enough to move a lot around the world, and with me, also the painting has moved, my feelings and the colors. I have always been curious to see how the place changes the painting. This has helped me discover a lot about myself. Overall is the same impressionist painting with the same three colors that represent me; yellow, brown and white.
NY Glam: What art movement or artist would you say influences your work most?
The thing that influenced me the most was definitely the school that I went to which really formed me as an artist, with the great professors that I had there advising me throughout that difficult journey. I would definitely say that I have been inspired by Rebecca Horn, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, Damien Hirst and Marshall MCLuhan. Lately I started reading “Seven Days in The Art World” by Sarah Thorton which is changing my opinion in a lot of things.
NY Glam: What can we expect from you this year?
Now I am actually working on an installation which I called “Consume”. I am thinking about sending it in some galleries where it would fit conceptually and visually, after that Im hoping that throughout this year I will finish the exhibition that I mentioned before, “Everything but Tomato”.
NY Glam: Can you share with us three favorite things about your city/culture?
At the moment Im living in Abington, Massachusetts, its a small town and it has a beautiful lake which would be perfect for every painter. Each move that I have done has shown its values later in time. This move to America makes me understand and think that it takes a lot of time to have a concrete analyze. It is the best laboratory where you reflect about your past. Actually, I am spending my time analyzing and not creating. If I compare it to Albania this is the difference; there I created while here I am analyzing. But I feel good in this phase of my life.
Each move that I have done has shown its values later in time. This move to America makes me understand and think that it takes a lot of time to have a concrete analyze. It is the best laboratory where you reflect about your pas. Actually, I am spending my time analyzing and not creating. If I compare it to Albania this is the difference; there I created while here I am analyzing. But I feel good in this phase of my life.
Contact website: https://elisgjoni.wixsite.com/website