Helidon Xhixha (b. 1970) has, in recent decades, affirmed his position as a leading figure in today’s contemporary art scene, with his work going on to receive much critical success on an international platform.
Upon discussing Xhixha’s iconic stainless steel sculptures, the prominent Italian art critic Luca Beatrice is quoted as calling the artist “one of the most interesting sculptors on the contemporary scene”. Currently based in Milan and Dubai, Xhixha holds a prestigious role in the international art scene sharing his innovative vision and technique through monumental examples of public art and redefining the relationship between a sculpture and its environment.
Having inherited a passion for the arts from his father, Helidon Xhixha took the decision to study in Italy, where he was able to develop his technique whilst at Milan’s prestigious Brera Art Academy. In 1998 the artist was awarded a scholarship to attended London’s Kingston University where he was given the opportunity to work with new materials, including stainless steel, that would go on to become the signature medium through which he would lay down his artistic legacy over a 15 year period.
Throughout his artistic trajectory, Xhixha’s three-dimensional stainless steel sculptures have shed light upon the inherent relationship between the artwork and its surrounding environment. As famously stated by Xhixha, “I don’t sculpt materials; rather I use materials to sculpt light.”
Ever since his academic years, Helidon Xhixha has been commissioned to design works in various countries across Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and the United States.
One of Helidon Xhixha’s most prolific artworks was included in the Cornice Venice International Art Fair in June 2007 to pay tribute to the victims of 9/11. The 6-meter high installation, depicting the American flag as two towers, was titled “The Renaissance of the twin towers” and has since been displayed in numerous cultural capitals such as Florence and Berlin as a reflection of our desire for hope and optimism.
In 2015 Helidon Xhixha’s symbolism and artistry was famously included during the 56th Venice Biennale; representing the Syrian pavilion.
Helidon Xhixha’s floating installation “ICEBERG”, a four-meter high stainless steel sculpture, captivated audiences, garnering much attention from industry professionals and the media alike; as it floated through the Canal Grande and the Venetian lagoon. This outstanding reflective sculpture made a statement for global warming and the potential impact it could have on a place such as Venice in the near future.
Soon after, Helidon Xhixha exhibited a contemporary response to Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” titled “Everlasting” at Milan-Malpensa Airport. Twelve pillars made of polished stainless steel stood before twelve panels depicting The Last Supper painting. Each stainless steel column designed to represents one of the twelve apostles standing firmly in place around the largest, central figure, Jesus Christ, in perfect symmetry.
Contrasting these slick objects, Xhixha has created a column made of dull, browned Corten steel to depict Judas, the traitor. A juxtaposition of materials highlights the themes of good versus evil, eminent notions within da Vinci’s masterpiece. Featured in such a prominent exhibition space the installation was viewed by some 20 million passing spectators.
In 2016 Xhixha’s success from the previous year lead him to present a major solo exhibition entitled “Shining rock” in the historical town of Pietrasanta on the coast of Northern Tuscany. The artworks were designed and placed across the town to accentuate Pietrasanta’s beauty and rich history.
The reflective nature of the work drew over 50,000 visitors during a period of 4 months, who travelled to admire the visually striking sculptures in Carrara marble, bronze and stainless steel. By paying homage the famous history and tradition of marble sculpting in the area, Helidon Xhixha not only made works that were relevant to their setting, but he presented a shift in his practice where he moved beyond the use of stainless steel and into the realms of exploring materials taken directly from the Earth.
The year after (2016) Helidon Xhixha was awarded the ‘Public medal Award’ for Best Installation at the first ever London Design Biennale. The event at Somerset House exhibited Xhixha’s installation titled “Bliss” in the central forecourt, the most prominent location in Somerset House.
Within this exhibition, that included works coming from 37 different countries inspired by the theme of Utopia, the public had the opportunity to interact, socialize and self-reflect with his sculpture. This installation was sought to blur the line between art and design in order to create a stimulating and progressive experience of Plato’s concept of ‘Utopia’ as an individual and a community in an ideal city.
Xhixha embraces the role of the monument not only as a solid, physical object but also as a reflection and abstraction of our external environment. His artistic trajectory has redefined the boundaries of contemporary sculpting and will continue to reshape our vision in the coming years.