A huge, inspiring space located inside an old rural court in the small town of Stezzano (Bergamo). This is the place where Adrian Paci, an artist of Albanian origins who chose Italy as his second homeland, has set up his studio along with two young artists and former students. In the rustic quiet of this place that hosts under way works of art, retro heirlooms and several books, we had a chat with him.

DROME: Let’s start from the very beginning. When did you understand you wanted to be an artist?
ADRIAN PACI: Like every child, I started to scribble at a very young age. My father was a painter and he let me stay in his studio and use his oil colours. When he died, I was only six years old. Since then, I started feeling as if I had the burden of responsibility on my shoulders, that is get to finish what my father left incomplete. My wish to find a link with my father, through his books and paintings, the support of my family and of my father’s friends and colleagues turned out to be decisive. However, sometimes in the past, I found myself questioning my talent. For example, as I arrived in Italy in 1997, with my wife and our two daughters, first of all I had to take care of my family and, moreover, I had to deal with a view of the artist that was completely different from the one I had pictured as I was in Albania. My view of the artist was a little “twentieth century”, and coming to Italy in a time when everyone was talking about post-modernism and post-human made me feel like a fish out of water. Later, fortunately, the course of events allowed me to follow my artistic path.

D: An object and a value that you have brought with you and that you treasure?
AP: Maybe one of the objects to which I do feel more attached is my exercise book from the first year at junior school. On the first pages there are many little scribbles that little by little become letters, then words and finally sentences. The best of these first scribbles of mine is that they have no meaning at all, but they have such an openness and potentiality that disappear as I learn to write. In the last pages, there are sentences such as: “Long live the Albanian communist party!”. The relationship between the potentiality of the child’s scribble and the limit imposed by knowledge makes me reflect. Among the values, on the other hand, I think that the most powerful value is authenticity. At some point in my life, the system of values imposed by the dictatorship crumbled. I grew up with the propaganda of the “new man”, a model that later I saw crumbling away little by little. Even once I was in Italy, I had to deal with a different type of “new man”, the one created by the consumer society. All that brought about in me this need for authenticity and urged me to look beyond the ideological and “au courant” models.

D: Several artworks of yours reflect upon interpersonal relationships, such as the performance The Encounter, presented last year in Sicily. Today, many relationships are transformed, sometimes impoverished, by digital technologies or by the social networks. How do you look at such changes?
AP: Every new device changes our way of communicating, but I’m sure that in our innermost self, there is something deeper that changes in a less perceptible and subtler way. With The Encounter, my aim was to reflect upon the issue of the handshake ritual which, though so old, has come up to the current days. I often use new technologies, but I have the feeling that in novelties there is always something “ageing quickly”. I feel more attracted to what remains stable over time than to the flows of novelties.

D: The work of art that has raised in you the deepest emotions?
AP: I believe that contemporary art, thanks to its openness to the word, the relationship, the temporal and narrative dimension, reserves a lot of space to emotions. On the other hand, the works from the past inspire the beholder in a different way, more silently. One of the artist that I have loved since I was a child is Leonardo da Vinci. I am fascinated by that scientific and – at the same time – sentimental look of him. I think that an artwork can arise emotion in many different way: a shot from an Antonioni’s movie or a painting by Morandi or a work by Francis Alÿs, Candice Breitz or Anri Sala.

D: Some works of yours refer to Pier Pasolini, starting from Secondo Pasolini to the more recent Via Crucis, now on exhibition at the Chiesa di San Bartolomeo in Milan. What fascinates you about this author?
AP: The encounter with Pasolini was really intense. I got to learn about his work only after arriving in Italy. What fascinated me since the very first time was the coexistence of a fresh and genuine look in front of a cruel and rough reality and the pictorial memory resulting from a long relationship with the Italian history of art. I have always watched his films with the eye of a painter, considering them the raw material from which to start to later develop my artwork. Through my works I try to mould the fascination that Pasolini wields over me.

D: What are about your future projects and exhibitions?
AP: I am currently working on a project that I’ll be presenting at the National Gallery of arts in Pristina, Kosovo, and on a solo show that will be hosted at the Jeu de Paume in Paris in February 2013, and that will later travel to Canada, Mexico and to the PAC in Milan.

text by Francesca Cogoni
photo by Carlo Beccalli per DROME magazine

DROME suggests the following exhibition: 

Maja Bajević | Adrian Paci | Alban Hajdinaj | Igor Grubić | Hubert Czerepok
Lindenstraße, 35

Berlin, from June 22 to September 8, 2012