The school did not make Djokonda an artist, but the fact that she grew up in a house where art was part of it. Her grandfather was a painter and her first toys were paints and brushes.
Almost all of Djokonda's childhood clothes have a mark left by ink, a mark that followed her throughout her life, dictating in some way the path she would follow later.
Xhokonda Dule graduated from the Artistic Lyceum in the branch of scenography-costume design and then went on to the Academy of Arts for textile-fashion design.
Today, she is a lecturer at the Agricultural University of Tirana, where for three years, she has been teaching at the Faculty of Forestry, specializing in the wood industry, with a focus on furniture and interior design.
There it gives free drawing. It is the third year of the launch of this branch in UBT.
"There is a very good flow of students, the department tries to orient them towards the labor market. Organizes various trainings, invites well-known companies. He has also concluded an exchange contract with a university in Vienna.
The teaching is great, I have always prepared students, students for the Academy of Arts.
This is different now of course. I try to be a little different from other lecturers, that is, I keep the line of my academy lecturers.
What I do differently is I give them more freedom, I try to be more advisory, this also increases their creativity. They are satisfied with my work. Now they will also present their works, the projects of the drawing subject, which I believe will have the success of last year" - says Xhokonda.
She spends her free time after teaching in her studio, near the Commune of Paris.
Apart from the painting, what stands out is that Xokonda makes masks where the raw material is... newspaper.
It is not surprising that the pages of this newspaper end one day in a mask on the part of Djokonda.
She has undertaken to produce masks in Tirana, which can be used in various activities, but can also be decorative.
She openly admits that the artist in Albania has many challenges, as according to her it is difficult to make art in this country, also because of the cultural poverty of individuals.
However, Djokonda feels good in the world of masks!
"The mask is a symbol of concealment, of rituals which are part of heritage today in different cultures. "The mask expresses more truth than the face" writes O. Wilde. The role of the mask in human life "throws the first dance", says Dule.
We have spoken with Xhokonda, not that of Leonardo Vinçi, but the girl from Tirana who has shown us her world, beyond the masks and commitment as a teacher.
-Xokonda, how did you find yourself between colors and pencils, this profession for you was a choice...?
My relationship with art starts from childhood. My interest in art was born at a young age, amid the smell of my grandfather's oil paints, and sometimes I think that even the name I bear, Djokonda, seems to have designed my path.
-The name it bears surely has a story?
My grandmother chose the name Xhokonda. She does not deal with art, she has another profile, but living together (for many years now) with my grandfather, the painter Bardhyl Dule, has developed her sensitivity towards art. Her wish, when I was born, was to name the most famous painting in the history of Figurative Art, 'Mona Lisa' or otherwise 'The Queen' by L. DaVinci.
- After a colorful childhood...
Poo, and I feel lucky for that. I was born and raised in the city of Tirana. My childhood was very beautiful and I always remember it fondly. As I am an only child, the first granddaughter and the daughter my grandparents had dreamed of, I grew up with a lot of love, with a lot of pampering.
I remember the frequent visits I made to grandfather Bardhyl's studio, on the first floor of the Great Palace of Culture where he led the art department. I often visited exhibitions with him, every Sunday I went either to the Puppet Theater or to the Tirana Circus. I was a very loving child. I had many toys and dolls, I styled their clothes myself, I dealt with them almost all day and everyone was forbidden to touch them.
-What did you study for?
I studied at the Artistic High School in the field of scenography-costume design, and after gaining almost four years of experience in this field, I decided that at the Academy of Arts, the field of textile-fashion design would suit this experience. The Textile Atelier when I started that year was enriched in the program, it has been and continues to be among the best and most productive ateliers in the Faculty of Visual Arts.
-Among your many works, masks are the ones that stand out, why have you focused on this as well?
Masks with recyclable, newspaper-based material is my thesis topic. I have not accidentally developed this product which has now turned into an art business. More than the focus of the mask as an object, what is worth focusing on is the execution process, the materials used and obviously the message I intend to convey.
-How do you do them, you can tell us a little about the work you do. What is the process?
Making the mask is a long and difficult process. They are always born from a basic mold which is benefited from a mass of sculpture and then it is worked with newspaper, processed with cloth, vinoville until the last stage is finished where it is subjected to patination, painting and then comes the stage of painting or enrichment with elements of Venetian masks. The painting stage is another art in itself, which undoubtedly has its own commitment.
- Does the mask have a certain message in itself or not?
Of course, the mask has a message since it is made of recyclable material. The message is clear. There are many artists in the world who with their works have made possible the birth of 'Eco-artist' and in addition to the message, they try to exercise mass awareness (people) for the protection of the environment through artistic objects.
- Is it difficult to work with recyclable materials and why did you choose this type of form?
It is very difficult to work as it takes a lot of time and requires a lot of patience. This form of making art was chosen by me deliberately, as I really wanted to do something different in a small country like Albania, where new "painters" sprout every day, like mushrooms after the rain.
-What are the masks you make used for?
The masks I make come in several forms. I produce masks with Venetian elements that are also functional for various events and parties, fun masks for children, but mainly the masks are for decorative purposes, especially the framed masks. Of course this is a preference for people who have fine artistic taste.
-Where are you going to get with making the masks, do you have a goal?
Maska already has a small business center. My goal is the development of this business, education through this type of art, especially in the younger generations. Of course, this will come gradually, but at the moment I am working on the realization of an exhibition catalog especially for masks and a strategy that I will follow.
-Xokonda, what role does the mask play in human life...?
The mask is a symbol of concealment, of rituals which are part of heritage today in different cultures. "The mask expresses more truth than the face" writes O. Wilde. The role of the mask in human life "throws the first dance". People in masks? We all wear masks, it is naive to think otherwise, the veil of the mask is not always in a negative or bad sense.
- It is difficult to be an artist in Albania, why?
It is very difficult to be an artist in Albania, as many things are missing here. Among these things, the most important is poverty in the culture of individuals. I have always been of the opinion that Art with a capital A' is not understood by the masses, however, this is exactly what the Albanian artist should turn into a challenge!
-What does this mean?
This means that artistic education is necessary from childhood, just as the outside world has been experimenting for a long time.
Albania is a small country, surprisingly, it has great artists. Albanian Figurative Art has had turbulence throughout history. The transition from the period of communism to the post-90's was not easy. Unfortunately, the post 90's brought a greater loss of artistic identity, because what the world had realized a century ago, the 'Albanian artist' started in the years of democracy.
In the field of visual art, there is very little, if any, financial support. Art requires support, either from business or from the state, if it receives neither from one nor from the other, it is doomed to fail.
*'Confession Room' exclusive column of Vox News.
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