Maks Velo, the Albanian artist, architect and writer died last night at the age of 84.
He had been hospitalised at the QSUT in Tirana for the past few days. No further information about his death has been made public.
Velo was born in Paris in 1935 but his parents returned to their native Albania shortly after. He conducted his studies at the Polytechnic Institute of Tirana in the Department of Civil Engineering, graduating in 1957. He spent several years working for the government, working on a number of projects including hotels, schools, villas and parks.
He was the architect of ‘The Palace of Cubes’ in central Tiran. This iconic building was home to a number of artists and intellectuals, including Ismail Kadare. The apartment of Kadare is now a museum and is open to the public.
In 1978 he was imprisoned for eight years by the communist regime for his ‘modernist tendencies’. He also claims he was asked to become an informer for the Sigurimi, and when he refused, they sent him to the infamous Spac prison camp.
After the 90’s and the fall of communism, he published several books and photographic albums on topics including poetry, folkloric art, social realism, and his memoirs. He has exhibited his work in the US, Poland, Rome and Russia.
He was considered somewhat controversial for his comments regarding northern Albanians, Kosovo Albanians, and Islam. But Velo was known for his contempt for tyranny and dictatorship and he became an active member of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in 1992. He is remembered by many as a champion of human rights and democratic freedoms.