My undying aim is that these fine forms of antiquity…would be viewed without extreme points, aggressiveness or heaviness, full of inner energy, but simple and stable. These forms present a secret and undefined mysticism… My aim is for my work to be distant from its source but close and identifiable with the observer.
Agim Rudi on sculpture and form
Born in Kosova, educated in Slovenia, Agim Rudi was exposed to the classic and modern arts of both the Balkans and Europe. Rudi’s inclination toward the arts began in his childhood years. At an early age he possessed a particular sense of touch and a great sense of three-dimensional forms and space. As a young artist, Rudi was fond of legends and the ancient history of his great nation, the Albanian nation. To quote Rudi, “legends typically consist of mysteries – the mystery of the form as well as the content – in this way they leave room for artists’ imagination and creativity”.
Rudi’s birthplace, Kosova, is located in the central Balkans, which is a location with an extraordinary combination of different cultures and religions. This geographic location allowed for tolerant development and passage of numerous civilizations, cultures and mentalities including the Illyrians, the Romans, the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarians, and the Slavs. Today, while still a small place, the Balkan region is very diverse. Elements of these civilizations and empires have been accepted and internalized by localities differently while ancient and autochthon culture have been successfully preserved.
Agim Rudi’s artworks correspond to different times in his life and encompass the region where he lives. His sculptures and drawings represent his talent and skills acquires while studying abroad and the work is inspired by anguish that he and his people experienced.
Rudi initially developed his artistic skills through completing the degree in pedagogy and art, in Prishtina, Kosova, in 1971. These two years enhanced Rudi’s creativity and further expanded his interest in the arts. This creative training coupled with his great passion for the arts motivated Rudi to apply for admission at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, where he enrolled in 1973 and studied sculpture.
The move to Slovenia marked a momentous turn in Rudi’s life, for this time enriched his mind with new cultures and a new mentality. Located in the Northern Balkans, he found the arts of Slovenia differed greatly from those of the Southern Balkans, Rudi’s native land. Life in Slovenia and the proximity to Italy, Austria, and France, brought Rudi closer to famed artists, legendary art works, other artists and scholars.
Having gained greater knowledge, experience and networks from Slovenia, Rudi returned to Kosova. In 1997, Rudi earned his Master’s degree in the University of Prishtina (UP) Kosova. He was employed in public television as a sculptor and set designer. By this time, Rudi was producing breathtaking drawings, sculptures and set design works.
In 1992, he became a professor in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Prishtina where he continues to teach today. Soon Rudi became one of the most prominent professors of sculpture in Kosova. Since 1992 hundreds of students have taken his classes. He also involves his students in real-life projects. Most importantly, Agim Rudi serves as a life mentor to numerous alumni of the University of Prishtina. Many famous sculptors in Kosova have learned from Rudi’s lectures and professional guidance.
In the late nineties, Agim Rudi experienced another major turn. Though this time it was not a pleasant move, like studying in Slovenia. Rudi was forced to leave Kosova along with his family and thousands of other ethnic Albanians as the then-Serb regime carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing. Rudi and his family escaped to the neighboring country of Macedonia where they stayed for three months. As people left en masse, in 1999, NATO carried out an air campaign against Serb military targets and liberated Kosova.
During his time away from Kosova, Rudi produced his most touching works. His works of this time depict suffering and fear and engage the audience in what his population has long suffered. His artwork perfectly complemented the life Albanians led during the oppressive Serbian regime in Kosova.
Fortunately, the stories of war, mass killings, and forced exodus, were soon substituted with those of life and reinvigoration of the Albanian nation in Kosova. The Rudi family returned to the liberated Kosova and managed to start a new life. Agim Rudi had the chance to travel again, but this time was further away, to the United States. He was asked to present his artwork (drawings and photographed sculptures) to an American audience. His new audience was left impressed at the weight, depth and care of his artwork for all generations, all times and all places.
It was in the US that he was inspired to launch an entirely new theme in his artwork. Although he was raised around Christians and Muslims, he developed a great interest in Christianity. He took time to study, internalize and think critically about different elements of the two faiths. In his biblically themed pieces, Rudi portrays his thoughts about different events in the Bible.
Rudi creates figures that build on Balkan history, with changing realities influenced by wars and injustice. In his line of works his audience is often presented with passionate and sometimes idealistic characters that are part of the drawings or above it, or both, as if joining the audience in observation. As Rudi travels to new places he continues to explore new ways to share his history and culture with new audiences, while always adding inspiring elements that further advance his already great works.
Agim Rudi’s sculptures and drawings have been featured in numerous exhibitions. His statues and sculptures are displayed and presented in many public places in Kosova. In 1990, he created the first statue in the world of Mother Theresa at the request of the Catholic Church in Novosella, Kosova. The statue is made of bronze and is 2.5 meters high.
1984 Foyer of National Theater, Prishtina, Kosova
1993 Cairo Gallery, Prishtina, Kosova
1995 Intermedia Gallery, Prishtina, Kosova
2002 The House of Culture, Mitrovica, Kosova
2006 Private exhibitions for private clients, Chicago, IL
2006 Marriott Nashville at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, United States
2013-2014 Public Exhibition at Rowster Coffee, Grand Rapids, MI
1974, ’75, ’76 Mesna Galeria, Ljubljana, Slovenia
1978-2009 All Exhibits of Kosova Artists Association
1983 6th Yugoslav Biannual of small plastics, Murska Sobota, Ljubljana and Maribor, Slovenia
1983 Drawing Biannual, Prishtina, Kosova
1988 Joint Exhibit of Kosova Artists Association, Belgrade, Nis, Novi Sad, Serbia
1989 Yugoslav Biannual, Cetinje, Montenegro
1996 Exhibit of Four Artists in the House of Culture, Presheve, Serbia
1997 Dodona Gallery, Prishtina, Kosova
1999-2000 Golgota Kosovare Arts Gallery, Prishtina, Kosova
2003 Humanitarian Exhibit of Macedonian Artists Association, Gostivar, Skopje, Tetove, Struga, Macedonia
2004 Drawing Biannual, Prishtina, Kosova
2005 Exhibition of the Pedagogs of the Arts Faculty, Arts Gallery, Prishtina, Kosova
2006 Bennett Galleries, Nashville, Tennessee
2009 Invitation to the Kosovar artists exhibition in Brussels, Belgium
2013 ArtPrize - International Art Exhibition (The Scream), Grand Rapids, MI United States
2014 ArtPrize - International Art Exhibition (Community), Grand Rapids, MI United States