26 Oct 2021, 12:05

Albanian artist offers 'therapy' with portraits painted in coffee

   DURRES, Albania, Oct 26, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Albanian artist David Kryemadhi

douses his brush with coffee and carefully sketches the face of a cafe
customer, hoping the offer of a free portrait will bring cheer amid the
anxiety of the pandemic. Many Albanians regard cafes as a vital institution
and punctuate most days with caffeinated outings -- the country of 2.8
million reputedly has one of the highest numbers of cafes in the world per
head of population.

  "Art and coffee help a lot of people," Kryemadhi told AFP in the seaside
city of Durres.

  "The moment of calm and reflection while painting a portrait helps the
other person gain self-confidence and see the world with a positive synergy,
a more open eye."

  Kryemadhi uses coffee like watercolour paints, composing portraits with a
rich, brown patina -- adding water to create different shades.

  In the cafes of Albania, he has found a natural setting for his brand of
art therapy.

  To find subjects to paint, he strikes up conversations with customers
before offering a free portrait.

  "It did me so much good," said student Alexsandra while waiting for her
portrait to dry. "I find in this painting all my emotions, my torments, my

  - 'Successful therapy' -

  Eva Allushi from the University of Durres explains that cafes in Albania
are "an essential form of social life" where people feel free to express

  "The novelty in David's art is the fact that he builds bridges with his
fellow travellers in this Albanian institution," she said.

  According to Albania's Institute of Statistics, the country has roughly 600
cafes per 100,000 people -- one of the highest in the world.

  Kryemadhi said he hoped his portraits would help alleviate some of the
stress caused by coronavirus in Durres, an area still recovering from a
devastating earthquake in 2019 that killed dozens and left thousands more

  "Coffee art is one of the most successful therapies," said Kryemadhi.

  "It helps to overcome difficult situations such as those experienced with
this pandemic or with the earthquake."


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