Detail on Edi Rama’s Untitled (2016). Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery

Detail on Edi Rama’s Untitled (2016). Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery

When he was mayor of Tirana, Albania, Edi Rama mandated that houses be painted in bright colors to enliven the dark grey dingy city and create civic spirit in a demoralized place.

Crime declined, even the everyday crime of stealing electricity.

“We got people to pay for the energy they were using,” Rama told the Observer. It was a giant step. A decade earlier, houses kept the lights on by connecting illegally with extension cords that crisscrossed everywhere like dark grey Christmas tinsel. Thanks to Rama, Albania, or much of it, chose enlightenment, most literally.

Rama, elected prime minister of Albania in 2013, recently reflected on what he had achieved as the mayor of Tirana and as leader of the Eastern European country at Marian Goodman Gallery, where he has a show up until November 23.

Approachable by the standards of any 6-foot-8 politician, Rama is a painter by training and by profession, and a former teacher at the Art Academy in Tirana. He also played on Albania’s national basketball team.

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