Manifesta purposely strives to keep its distance from what are often seen as the dominant centres of artistic production, instead seeking fresh and fertile terrain for the mapping of a new cultural topography.

Alije Vokshi, AL

Alije Vokshi was the first ethnic Albanian woman painter from Kosovo to study in Belgrade and Paris, and to teach fine arts at the University of Prishtina. She is most renowned for her expressionist portraits. These are remarkable not only for their moody, nuanced rendering of the emotions of her subjects, but also for their conscipuous depiction of hands.

They are consistently large, disproportionately so, at once awkward and capable, coarse and caring. After first painting a worker, whose appearance had captivated her on the street, Vokshi bestowed labourers’ hands upon all her subjects, beginning with her own mother.

Bigger hands, as she explained in an interview, are “a signifier of hard work and diligence” – both virtues in the mind of the painter only recently gaining international recognition for her art. In contrast to her mother and many of her peers, however, Vokshi applied her “hard work and diligence” beyond the domestic sphere. Interestingly, it was her father, not her mother, who encouraged her to do so.