For paintings like 'Planting Trees', Edi Hila (now 61) was sentenced to forced labor in the seventies: for six years, he lugged sacks of chicken feed on a poultry farm. Today, he is the only painter of his generation who enjoys the full respect of the young. 'Because he has the courage to develop,' says his old student Edi Muka. 'He is brave enough to be insecure about what he is doing.'
In the spacious studio he built above the apartment reserved for artists in communist times, the maestro with the infinitely sweet eyes arranges some of his recent paintings for us to see. The dancing tree planters seem very far away now. These are painted impressions of photographs he took and manipulated of anonymous spaces and people about to disappear into them.
'We see them from behind,' says Hila. 'They are not moving towards me, but away into the distance. What are they looking for? Our new reality is so uncertain, one question follows the other. And who am I? If I would know the answer,' he says with the tristesse of someone who has lost years of his life, 'I would not still be painting.'