People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish… but that’s only if it’s done properly.Banksy, Wall and Piece
Opinion is divided on street art / graffiti. Some consider it vandalism, others (including me) enjoy the way it brightens a city. Great street art can be beautiful; it can make you think; it can even transform a district (as it has in some of the comunas of Medellin).
Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody could draw whatever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colours and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall – it’s wet.Banksy (again)
So of course I was on the lookout for street art in Tirana, as I am everywhere I go. I spotted some great pieces on suburban apartment blocks on our drive from the airport, but these were almost impossible to photograph. However they set high hopes for what I would find in the city centre, hopes that were only partly realised. For the most part street art there seemed to be restricted to utility boxes. I certainly found a good selection of those!
Apart from these boxes, however, I only found occasional pieces. A shop shutter here, a wall outside a café there … It was only in the area near the flea market, a little away from the main tourist sights, that I spotted one larger piece, and that was at a difficult angle for photos, although I did my best.
Finally, here is a legitimate art work, Reja or the Cloud, by Sou Fujimoto. It stands in front of the National Gallery of Arts where it serves as a focal point for cultural events in the city.
The ‘Visit Tirana’ website says of it:
The Pavilion is a delicate, three-dimensional structure; each unit comprises fine steel bars of 800 and 400 mm rectangles. It forms a semi-transparent, irregular canopy, simultaneously protecting visitors from the elements while allowing them to remain part of the landscape. The footprint of the structure is 350 square-metres and the Pavilion has two entrances. A series of stepped terraces provide seating areas that allow the Pavilion to be used as a flexible, multi-purpose social space. The delicate quality of the structure, enhanced by its semi-transparency, creates a geometric, cloud-like form, as if it were mist rising from the undulations of the park.
I visited Tirana in April 2023