Petrit Halilaj

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Petrit Halilaj
Born1986 (age 36–37)[1][2]
Known forsculpture, installation art

Petrit Halilaj (born 1986) is a Kosovar visual artist[3][4] living and working between Germany, Kosovo and Italy.[5] His work is based on documents, stories, and memories related to the history of Kosovo.[6][7]

With his husband Alvaro Urbano, Halilaj is a joint tutor at Beaux-Arts de Paris, in Paris, France.[8][9]

Early life[edit]

Born in SFR Yugoslavia, now Kosovo, Halilaj left the country at the age of 13 with his family during the Yugoslav Wars of 1991–2001.[10] At a refugee camp in Albania, a team of Italian psychologists, hoping to help the children process the trauma of the war, gave Halilaj felt-tip markers, with which he began to make drawings about his experiences.[9]

Settled in Italy, Halilaj studied at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan.[11]


During the 6th Berlin Biennale in 2010, Halilaj exhibited a sculptural reconstruction of a house built by his parents, to replace the family home that was levelled by bombing during the 1998–1999 Kosovo war.[12][13]

Halilaj represented the Republic of Kosovo at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013.[14][15]

Halilaj had several solo exhibitions, including one at the New Museum in New York in 2017–2018[7] and one at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in 2018–2019.[15]

Halilaj created a large site-specific installation of giant sculptural flowers in 2020 for Madrid's Palacio de Cristal.[2][16]

In 2020 Halilaj dropped out of the 58th October Salon – Belgrade Biennale [sr], claiming that the Cultural Center of Belgrade [sr], which organises it, would not recognize his Kosovar nationality.[4][17]

In July 2021, Halilaj and Urbano collaborated on an installation of "huge fabric flowers" at the Kosovo National Library to celebrate the 5th annual Kosovo Pride Week.[9] [18] According to the New York Times:

[The flowers] included a replica of a lily that had been part of [Urbano and Halilaj's] engagement bouquet. Kosovo is still a macho society, Halilaj said, yet no one had "thrown tomatoes" or protested against the artists’ celebration of gay love. "When this happened, under the flowers, I felt home for the first time in my life." [9]

In October 2021, an exhibit opened at Tate St Ives of an installation by Halilaj inspired by his youthful marker drawings done in the refugee camp.

He revisited the pictures [in 2020] and was surprised by what he’d drawn. Among the violence, he said, “I saw all these birds — peacocks and doves — and they were as big as the soldiers, as happy and proud. ... It was like I was saying, ‘Yes, it was awful, but I can dream and love, too.’” [9]

In the exhibit, visitors walk among hanging cutouts of images from the drawings blown up to a huge scale. Approached from the entrance, the cutouts show "a fantasy landscape of exotic birds and palm trees," but when the visitors turn back to the entrance, "they find that some of the suspended forms have been printed on the reverse with a more macabre selection of Halilaj’s doodles: soldiers, tanks, wailing figures, burning houses."[9]

Solo exhibitions[edit]

Group exhibitions[edit]



He received the Mario Merz Prize[5] and a special mention of the jury at the 57th Venice Biennale, both in 2017.[15]


  • Roberta Tenconi, ed., Petrit Halilaj: Space Shuttle in the Garden, Milan: Mousse Publishing, 2016, 160 p., English / Italian, ISBN 978-88-6749-241-1[12][33]


  1. ^ a b "Petrit Halilaj – Exhibition at Tate St Ives". Tate. 1975.
  2. ^ a b "Petrit Halilaj | Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía".
  3. ^ a b Larios, Pablo. "In Focus: Petrit Halilaj". Frieze. No. 155. ISSN 0962-0672. Retrieved 2020-08-02.
  4. ^ a b "Artist Petrit Halilaj Has Pulled Out of the Belgrade Biennial After Its Organizers Refused to Recognize His Nationality". artnet News. 28 July 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Mario Merz Prize". Retrieved 2020-07-18.
  6. ^ a b WIELS. "Petrit Halilaj: Poisoned by men in need of some love | Exhibitions | WIELS". Retrieved 2020-07-18.
  7. ^ a b c "Petrit Halilaj: RU". Retrieved 2020-07-18.
  8. ^ "Petrit Halilaj and Alvaro Urbano". Beaux-Arts de Paris. Retrieved 2021-08-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Wonders, and Horrors, Drawn From Boyhood in a War Zone". The New York Times. 2021-10-27.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Judah, Hettie. "Artist Petrit Halilaj's Living Archaeology". Frieze. No. 201. ISSN 0962-0672. Retrieved 2020-08-03.
  11. ^ Cherubini, Laura (18 February 2016). "Petrit Halilaj". Flash Art.
  12. ^ a b c "Petrit Halilaj "Space Shuttle in the Garden" at HangarBicocca, Milan". Mousse Magazine. 2 March 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Berlin Biennale 2010: where art imitates real life | Skye Sherwin". the Guardian. 15 June 2010.
  14. ^ a b "Curator Kathrin Rhomberg selected Petrit Halilaj to represent Kosovo at the 55th Venice Biennial 2013". Biennial Foundation. 21 December 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2022.
  15. ^ a b c d "Hammer Projects: Petrit Halilaj | Hammer Museum". Retrieved 2020-07-18.
  16. ^ "petrit halilaj turns madrid's palacio de cristal into nest of giant flowers". designboom | architecture & design magazine. 24 July 2020.
  17. ^ "Kosovar Artist Withdraws from Belgrade Biennial over Country of Origin Dispute". Exit – Explaining Albania. 29 July 2020.
  18. ^ "Forget Me Not: What if a Journey". Retrieved 2021-11-08.
  19. ^ "Petrit Halilaj: Space Shuttle in the Garden". Pirelli HangarBicocca. Retrieved 2020-08-03.
  20. ^ Panicelli, Ida (2017-12-15). "Critics' Picks – New York: Petrit Halilaj". Artforum. Retrieved 2020-08-03.
  21. ^ "Petrit Halilaj. Shkrepëtima". Fondazione Merz. Retrieved 2020-08-02.
  22. ^ "Petrit Halilaj: Very volcanic over this green feather". Tate. Retrieved 2021-08-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. ^ Gratza, Agnieszka (2011-08-03). "Critic's Picks – New York: "Ostalgia" at the New Museum". Artforum. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
  24. ^ Mascheroni, Loredana (2015-12-10). "Super Superstudio – PAC, Milano". Klat. ISSN 2036-6760. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
  25. ^ "Biennale Arte 2017 | Homepage 2017". La Biennale di Venezia. 2017-02-20. Retrieved 2020-08-03.
  26. ^ "Tbilisi Art Fair 2019: About the Fair". Artsy. 2019-05-07. Retrieved 2020-07-16.
  27. ^ Albrethsen, Pernille (2019-06-05). "Summer Sonata 2019 – Denmark". Kunstkritikk. Retrieved 2020-08-03.
  28. ^ Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne-Centre (7 July 2020). "Musée national d'art moderne – Centre Pompidou". (in French).
  29. ^ "Collection". MEF.
  30. ^ "Petrit Halilaj, Do you realise there is a rainbow even if it's night!? (beige), 2017". MCA.
  31. ^ "Petrit Halilaj – Do you realise there is a rainbow even if it's night!?".
  32. ^ "Petrit Halilaj born 1986". Tate.
  33. ^ "Petrit Halilaj : Space Shuttle in the Garden – Les presses du réel (book)". Retrieved 2020-08-02.