The title of the exhibition is borrowed from the book “The General of the Dead Army” by the Albanian writer Ismail Kadare. It provides a psychological setting and a historic link to the Balkans that trigger content for the new body of paintings by Andrea Medjesi. The atmospheres marked by different seasons move alongside fictitious and allegorical encounters between human and animal forms, described through different formal and compositional devices and split between portraitures and landscapes. The spectral figures and scenes emerge along the journey, marking Medjesi’s ongoing interest in metamorphosis, resurrection and reincarnation. The accent is placed on the light as a form of apparition and a manifestation of seasonal and emotional changes.
Medjesi calls upon different Slavic rituals and superstitions, conjuring up magical yet ideology fuelled scenarios found in the folk tales, local mythologies and proverbs. The language is used to activate different mental states induced by paranoia and hallucinations, fear and ecstasy. The motives of fireflies, venomous toads and mind-altering fungi that double up as listening devices or the WW2 army helmets play along in the environment of deep woodlands that hold secrets as well as evidence of the recent war crimes and the ancient battles. This form of soil memory reveals itself as both actively toxic and enchanting, forming a personal response to the notions of identity and origin.
Medjesi was born and raised in the former Yugoslavia. She moved to the UK prior to the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. Her practice occupies a space that sits between two geographical and ideological axis (that of the East and the West) that overlap but equally impose their own traditions and histories. Her practice is an attempt to reconcile these temporalities as a regenerating source for fiction, personal memories and future narratives.