Prishtina Press: Tell us a little about yourself and your career beginnings.
Gazmend Freitag: I was born May 25, 1968 in Pataçani i Poshtëm in what is known today as the Republic of Kosovo. When I was twenty two the political situation threatened my life and I was forced to quit the study of law. 1990 I fled to Germany. Since 2004 I live in Linz, Austria. In Germany I began to devote myself to my great passion for Art. I started to paint with oils and enjoyed working on canvas. But it was only after I moved to Austria that I felt confident to introduce my work to a broad public. 2008 I organized my first exhibit and began my career as a painter.
Prishtina Press: What projects are you currently working on?
Gazmend Freitag: I am preparing my next solo-exhibit which takes place during May in the Gallery „Strandgut“ in Linz. The theme will be eroticism. I will be showing paintings and drawings of various women who have visited my studio in Linz.
Prishtina Press: What art do you most identify with?
Gazmend Freitag: I see myself as an artist in the postimpressionistic tradition.
Prishtina Press: What themes do you pursue?
Gazmend Freitag: My art is mainly about people, but I am interested in landscapes and animals as well. The human body, especially of women, plays a great role in my work. Of personal and creative importance are Albanian themes such as landscapes, history and personalities. I am also very fond of bridges.
Prishtina Press: What’s your favorite art work?
Gazmend Freitag: I can’t say that I have one favorite painting. There are several that I admire. But to answer the question I would mention “Emma” by the German painter Gerhard Richter.
Prishtina Press: Tells us about some of your recent exhibitions. What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Gazmend Freitag: I really enjoyed the exhibit in the Albanian Embassy in Vienna. It was wonderful to introduce visitors to Albanian themes like the portraits of Skanderbeg, Ismail Kadare and Bekim Fehmiu as well as to landscapes from my homeland. The response was enthusiastic and made me feel that I had fulfilled my function as an artist.
Prishtina Press: Tell us about one of your projects which you are very proud of.
Gazmend Freitag: My best project so far is the participation at the “1st Biennale of Creativity”, Verona, Italy. The painting of “Baresha” was shown in the official catalog and has been distributed worldwide. The reviews have been very positive, among them an article in the prestigious Italian Art Magazine EFFETTO ARTE.
Prishtina Press: What does “being creative” mean to you?
Gazmend Freitag: Being creative means to enjoy life and to look forward to making something. Even when it is as small as a line or a letter on paper.
Prishtina Press: What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
Gazmend Freitag: It has become a habit to portray celebrities both old and new. It is my way of keeping in touch with what is going on in the world. Since there are plenty of them, I never run out of ideas. And I always use pencil or crayon on paper.
Prishtina Press: What are you trying to communicate with your art?
Gazmend Freitag: Foremost I want to share the energy that I put into my work with other people. It makes me happy and keeps me socially connected as well.
Prishtina Press: What role does the Artist have in Society?
Gazmend Freitag: Artists have a unique way of looking at the world. They can see what is hidden, be critical of what is going on and offer ideas for change and improvement. As a role model for the younger generation an artist has the opportunity to inspire and to show how creativity in all its forms can contribute to a better world. Most importantly they remind people of the beauty and deeper meaning of life.
Prishtina Press: What are your thoughts on being an artist in today’s world?
Gazmend Freitag: I think the challenges have always been the same- to find your own voice, to be good at what you do and to find people who love the work and are willing to buy it. The internet and social media have made it easier to connect with the world and to be visible. There are not restrictions on what is possible and what might be considered Art. On the other hand it has become harder to be noticed among the growing number of people who are creative and want to sell their work.
Prishtina Press: How has painting influenced your life?
Gazmend Freitag: I cannot imagine not being an artist. It is who I am and I have taken many risks and faced many difficulties to become a painter. I had to learn to believe in myself and to never give up. Even on bad days I am happy when I can use color and line to portray something.
Prishtina Press: What kind of art is unappealing to you?
Gazmend Freitag: I prefer realistic art with a focus on beauty. Therefore I find it hard to relate to abstract art and to themes and subjects that are devoid of beauty in the traditional sense.
Prishtina Press: What art movement or artist would you say influences your work most?
Gazmend Freitag: Realism, Impressionism and Expressionism are very much present in my work. I am influenced by Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Henri Matisse, Toulouse Lautrec, Pablo Picasso and Gerhard Richter. Especially I like the work of Lucian Freud and how he portrays people.
Prishtina Press: What can we expect from you in 2018?
Gazmend Freitag: Three of my larger size paintings can be viewed and purchased all year long in the Gallery „Der Kunstraum in den Strassengalerien“ in Vienna. In May I exhibit erotic paintings and drawings in the Gallery “Strandgut” in Linz. Feminine beauty and the sensuality of the female body are the main themes which I want to emphasize during this year.
Prishtina Press: Can you share with us three favourite things about your city/culture?
Gazmend Freitag: My hometown Linz is a culturally diverse city which attracts people from all over the world. Everyone celebrates his or her uniqueness. The Arts play a big role and are well supported. People are pretty well off financially. The social climate is good and allows for interesting and satisfying interactions. (www.gazmendfreitag.net)