Lui Shtini grew up in Albania during the intense political and social upheaval of the 1980s which led to the Kosovo War. Within this context, his artistic education was shaped by the censorial legacy of the Communist government which came to power after WWII when many artists left the country, went into seclusion, or were forced to adopt a Social Realist style. In this environment, Shtini gained exposure to other traditions of Western art history only through books. As a result, his painting technique developed as a reaction to Social Realist work and his detached introduction to the history of painting. In his “Face Paintings” series, Shtini makes portraits which the critic Roberta Smith calls “small, truculent, madly textured presences in oil on board that … are dominated — filled, really — by wonderfully strange presences denoted by two or three stacked, symmetrical hairy or fuzzy shapes….The images have a repulsive allure, a kind of invasive beauty that is common to the grotesque. But these are also extremely formal works made by an artist who seems thrilled by all the textures he can coax from oil paint.”
Roberta Smith, “Lui Shtini: ‘Face Paintings’,” New York Times. 19 Dec. 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/20/arts/design/lui-shtini-face-paintings.html.
Long Island City, NY
Born 1978, Kavaje, Albania
2007 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Madison, ME
2000 BFA, The Academy of Arts, Tirana, Albania