MuralFest Kosovo has just wrapped up its seventh edition “ON(OFF)LINE”, unveiling seven new street art murals to the town of Ferizaj. The festival ran from 7th until 14th May 2022. The painting process of 7 murals throughout the 7 days of the 7th edition of the Festival of Murals – On(OFF)Line.

Through a series of art activations, workshops and lectures in the city of Ferizaj, On(Off)line invites us to examine the many relationships, both digital and physical, that make up modern life.

Invited artists for this year’s festival included Maximiliano Bagnasco , Zane Prater, Gabriel Pitcher, DriDali , Mate Artist, RetryOne, En and SpringFlash.

The first mural painted is titled “Kantarion” by American artist, Zane Prater. “Kantarion” brings the connection between humans and nature.

“Working off of the theme “on/offline” this piece represents connection, disconnection, and the act of tuning into your physical body and the landscape that you inhabit. It is a depiction of Kantarion, also known as St. John’s Wort, a medicinal plant traditionally used in Kosovo to help with anxiety, depression, and other ailments. The portrait is of Valera, one of the groups of talented young artists from Ferizaj who are invaluable in bringing this project to life. It is about seeing yourself in the world around you and healing, quite literally, from the roots up.” Zane PRATER

Dridali decided to paint Leart Gashi, a young musician who shows us that an extra chromosome makes you more unique. “Leart’s Piano” promotes the integration of all individuals in society,

“Leart is a young pianist from the city of Ferizaj, Kosovo. He is an artist who, as the flamencos say, has “duende”- an elevated state of emotion and artistic expression. The art of music does not acknowledge prejudice. It is a melody that makes your skin crawl and excites you. Only those with feeling, purity and love can achieve it, three words that are written on the face of my friend Leart Gashi, who is pictured in this mural. Leart represents all the other talented, special kids who have so much to offer to the world. This mural honours them directly, and paints them for who they really are- unique individuals who are actually capable of wonderful things.” Dridali

The third mural was painted by Maximiliano Bagnasco and is titled “Mona Lisa of Kososo”

“Mona Lisa of Kosovo” is a mural which was carefully sketched right after the world started to unveil itself from the isolation presented by the latest pandemic. The isolation and distancing measures presented by the pandemic situation kickstarted a discussion that has been long overdue- the interpersonal isolation people have put themselves into by focusing only on their virtual presence. The “Mona Lisa of Kosovo” paints a young girl whose face shows confusing emotions, while holding onto a glass dome where the same girl’s spirit is captured. The glass dome represents the mobile devices and screens that have isolated humans from staying in touch with their surroundings. The same girl being outside and inside the glass dome represents the split existence of humans in virtual and real life.” Maximiliano Bagnasco

The fourth mural is painted by British artist, Gabriel Pitcher, and his mural calls for discussion on society’s digital transformation.

“For the 7th edition of the Festival of Murals organized by MuralFest Kosovo, we were presented the theme On(OFF)Line which examines and compares the reality we live in, with the unreal world we create in digital space. For my contribution, I was interested in capturing the void between the digital and physical world. A place which we inhabit and live parallel lives, where we can consider which version of ourself to introduce, or hold back from this interaction. Here we see an oversized mural of a young girl seen at close range. A slatted blind obscures the window she stands behind. From beyond her barrier, she peeks voyeuristically through to the outside world. Moving down the portrait, a digital glitch in the imagery adds a splash of colour to refocus our attention – what are we looking at? Is the avatar peeking from behind the blind created by the online experience of the real person, or is it really a representation of the person in the real world? When does the digital world start to devour the real world?” Gabriel Pitcher

Spanish artist, Theo Magma, paints “Creation of the Virtual-Like” and addresses the impact of social platforms and networks on the human personality.

“This mural is called “Creation of the Virtual-Like” and it comes as a representation of the modern dual existence of humans- the real-life and the social networks. It is an attempt to paint out the false image humans have created upon themselves, and the misery that is left out of the picture. On one side, I have pictured an image that appears calming, resembling the perfection of the lives and the idyllic aesthetics of what is shown on social networks. Moving to the opposite side, we find the reality of those lives which is shown totally different from what we see first. It is a representation of what lies under the facade, and the chaos of the real-life that is hidden in order to support the false, perfect image of the virtual life. All for a simple “Like” that serves as a tool of validation and feeds the human ego. A feature that has transformed human interaction and perspective.” Theo Magma

RetryOne, En and the talented girls of Spring Flash breathed new life into the grey concrete underpass “Bashkimi i Qytetit”, welcomed by the local community.

“The mural that me, En, and the girls from Spring Flash came up with is an interpretation within this edition of the Festival of Murals’ topic- On(OFF)Line. Due to some logistical issues we had with materials, we switched the plan upside down and decided to flip the script, which meant that instead of using spray cans we opted for acrylics only. This enabled us to actually visualize the topic in an abstract way. I challenged my mural teammates to leave their comfort zone, which consisted of mostly classical/figurative painting, and I asked them to find a graphical solution for it. Given that we took a few elements associated with this year’s topic, we considered the act of the painting itself to be the physical “offline” part. We cut up the images and symbols and mixed them up like a collage, so the final result would be closer to an abstract painting, which also left space for more graphical related elements. As we live in 2022 now, a digital era, the images of the wall will travel within the online spectrum, which is already being witnessed as the people are posing in front of the wall even during the process.” RetryOne

The 7th, and last mural for the VII edition of the Mural Festival, that we present to you is “Digital Future” by Italian artist Mate

“During the VII edition of the Mural Festival, we were introduced to the theme “On(OFF)Line”, a topic that can be seen from many perspectives. I chose to leave my contribution to this Festival with a mural depicting the image of a child tending to be fed by a virtual apple-shaped figure. It is no coincidence that the child has a modern virtual reality device that enables the three-dimensional perception of virtual figures. I have tried to portray how human activities and processes are being replaced and transformed through digitalisation. Progressivity is unfortunately accompanied by the loss of human essence. ” Mate

Scottish filmmaker Doug Gillen of FifthWallTV presents On(Off)line, a candid exploration into the heart of Kosovo’s biggest public art project MuralFest Kosova. Check out his latest film below featuring the works of Dridali, Gabriel Pitcher, Mate, Maxi Bagnasco, Theo Magma, Retry One and the Mural Fest Crew & Zane Prater.

Ferizaj, Kosovo Mural Fest. Let’s go …

Filmed by Doug Gillen for FifthWallTV in collaboration with Mural Fest Kosovo.

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