|Albanian painter Gazmend Freitag, Linz, 2016. PHOTO: ELFRIEDE ÖSTERLE|
Gazmend Freitag was born on 25 May 1968 in Pataqani i Poshtëm, Kosovo. At the time his father Asllan had emigrated and was working in Lyon, France. Though his mother Qamile could barely read and write, she is described as a generous, endearing and good-hearted woman. She gave birth to five boys, of which Gazmend is the middle child. Her heart’s desire was for her children to receive a formal education, so she made sure they were in school and studying.
Even as a child Gazmend demonstrated a talent for drawing, though in school he devoted himself to literature. His family did not consider art and literature of importance and did not support his talents. His drawings, while adorning the walls of his primary school, attracted no particular attention. The first recognition of Gazmend’s abilities was for one of his poems, which was ranked third in Kosovo and published in “Rilindja për Fëmijë”, a children’s section published every Tuesday by the Kosovar daily newspaper “Rilindja”.
After graduating in 1987 Gazmend started studying law in Pristina. The same year he was called up for military service before continuing his studies in 1988. After two semesters at the University of Pristina access was closed to Albanians by the Serbian authorities. Student protests followed in 1989. Some participants paid with their lives while others were arrested or prosecuted, among them Gazmend, who saw himself forced to emigrate from Kosovo.
Arriving in Germany, he sought an artist’s life, a decision he took against the wishes of his parents, who had wanted him to become a lawyer. He fell in love with Kristin, a German girl five years younger than him, and they got married. Together they had three daughters, whom he calls „Angels on Earth’“.
Between 1990 and 2013 Gazmend attended courses in oil portrait painting at different academies. 2013 he began to study figure drawing at the University of Linz with Professor Anneliese Oberdanner, a well-known expert in her field.
His work is traditional in nature and is centered around autobiographical elements, landscapes from the country of his birth, memories from his childhood, nudes and figure drawings, portraits and still lifes. He prefers drawing with pencils, chalk and ink as well as oil paintings on canvas.
Since 2004 he is living in Linz, Upper Austria. His work has been seen in Austrian and International exhibitions and art fairs.