These series of works challenges the conventional preconceptions of the past and the recreation of it. While movies are always a good way of achieving this, posters are the tool normally used to introduce the story they tell to the public. The posters with their bright colours, depicting the hero or the heroine of the movie, in glamorous poses with big letters across them, have not changed much since their early days. The only big difference is the technique in which they were created; in a way they have been a constant presence throughout the changing times. The painting in itself can be intimidating to a broad audience – the very same audience that admires these film posters designed to recreate history although they are, or can be in a different 'league' or 'wavelength'. By doing paintings to look like posters I want to make them more accessible to the public, so the public familiarize with them and the story behind it.
******* At first glance Gazmend Ejupi’s cinema paintings remind an age of innocence, the so-called golden era of Hollywood, where going to the movies was an all-embracing experience designed to foster dreams, nurture passions and foment romance. A fictional world made of brave men and fascinating women, where heroes and villains are immediately recognizable. The painterly quality of Ejupi’s images further contribute to feed this illusion of romanticism by introducing a retro note and alluding at the practice of billboard painting still in use in many countries at the same time. What emerges on a second time from this apparently reassuring game, however, is a completely different scenario. The woman starring in The Affair, for example, is not just a cigarette-puffing seductive starlet; it’s Christine Keeler, former model and mistress of John Profumo, the British politicians forced to resign in disgrace for lying to the house about his involvement with the woman during a time when she was also seeing the Soviet diplomatic Yevgeny Ivanov. The two lovers passionately kissing in Love under Siege are Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, members of the atomic bomb spy ring who President Eisenhauer had executed in 1951 amid a lot of controversies. And the vaguely lost man portrayed in The Assassin is Gavrilo Princip, the killer of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria – an action that according to many set the ball rolling for a chain of episodes eventually leading to World War 1. Kosovo-born, London-based Ejupi is very well acquainted with the political and social conflicts that marked such an important part in European history. His digging into the past is not just a journey to discover the events that affected a significant part of his homeland’s time. What we are witnessing is rather an archeological investigation created to give to the protagonists of his paintings the chance to experience the level of spectacularization and glamorous media attention that is clouding the perception of contemporary history. By converting his characters into today’s media-celebrities, Ejupi revisits the past with wit and astuteness; his portraits are ironic but respectful, and take away another layer to the already very thin line that separates reality and fiction.
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