STAYING FRESH – 2020
2020 has been turned into an extraordinary year by the pandemic. Our institution seems to be able to continue the series Fresh featuring „one artist – one hall – one curator” (or at least we hope this will remain the case). This type of exhibition is based on the studio – exhibition space analogy formed by the Kunsthalle’s ensemble of rooms reminiscent of sun-lit ateliers. Exhibitions like Fresh mostly provide snapshots of the oeuvres of artists in the middle of their careers, who in the best-case scenario work in their own studios. Hence, their joint presentation in the Kunsthalle in adjacent spaces somewhat alleviates their loneliness, while opening up the chance for dialogue. Together these one-room shows, each featuring a different genre and artistic approach, let us see a small cross-section every year.
The adjacent exhibitions create an additional experience to both the artists and the public, inadvertently inspiring connections and comparisons between the different interpretations. Indeed, this is an express intention of the Kunsthalle. Laymen and professionals can equally discover artists at the Fresh shows who were outside their scope of interest before. In an ideal situation, this layout can even generate the much-desired openness of art appreciation, while visitors and artists are also given the chance to explore various artistic approaches and conceptions. This kind of communication is never verbal in nature but primarily constitutes and requires visual intellectual effort. Even when the auras of the works in one exhibition hall are opened up, the interrelations and interference of energies as well as the synergies between works arranged according to the curator’s concept can be perceived. It might seem mysterious at first to encounter something beyond the autonomous intellectual-sensory experience generally allowed by the pyramidal vision of a work of art but the Műcsarnok’s exhibition invites viewers to do just that: to interpret these works by metaphorically crossing through walls.
Thus far 35 artists have been given the opportunity in the Kunsthalle to have a solo show with a plus. The exhibitions Fresh, Nine Ateliers and Spaces (ap)art allowed the public to take a peek into the ’studios’ of 26 artists. This year another nine studios will present their inspiring worlds to the art-loving public and the professional community. In the introduction of the catalogue for Spaces (ap)art in 2019, András Bán looked at the show in the context of the Kunsthalle’s recent past stating that “a similar approach was taken to studios by the One Week shows, initiated by Júlia Fabényi (2003, 2005). There was also a show linked to the space of creation itself: Katalin Keserü’s Artists and Ateliers in the Ernst Museum (2002). Taking a broader view, all the salon type exhibitions can be said to have the same underlying idea, namely to document the excitement [which critics call: boredom] of the given moment”. I believe that the latter sarcastic approach and close-minded attitude is no more than a passing phase.
To prove that boredom is out of the question this year too and to evoke the curiosity of the readers, let me share some insights by the curators about the exhibitions featuring the artists they invited to display their works this year:
Nóra Soós “A defining feature of her sovereign painterly language is transparency: figures and objects from various periods and cultural milieus painted in different scales and from unusual perspectives are superimposed in the layers of her works. Her vigorous palette exudes carefree joy and friendly informality, while her compositions often address grave issues and pressing problems such as the pandemic and climate change.” (curator: Dóra Dekovics)
László Tenk “regards painting as a means of self-exploration and discovering the world. His works are conceived in special moments when contemplation and drawing a balance are simultaneously present. His consistent un-trendiness enables him to evoke a universal timelessness: he is engaged in a dialogue with nature, observing as her companion the living beings and landscapes, which appear in his paintings as manifestations of createdness bringing peace for him and others. László Tenk has been painting for 50 years. Every day. Whatever the state of the world, whatever obstacle/hardship he is up against, he paints…” (curator: Szilvia Reischl)
Gábor Fülöp “brilliantly carves the archetypes, human-scale figures, of classical sculpture out of wood. His life-size figures are mainly beautiful female bodies and often mythological characters with either their entire surface covered in patterns derived from the flora (leaves, flowers, mushrooms) or fauna (ladybirds, fish scales) or being hollowed out so that only their outer shell is kept, their surface being punched or given an uneven finish. Their posture, pose and proportions often evoke antique sculpture, while the plant and animal motifs applied to their surface and their symbiotic bond with the human body can be linked with both Mannerism and Surrealism.” (curator: Marianna Mayer)
Péter Rizmayer “belongs to the new generation of artists for whom Gaia, our world, and nature are not themes but their chance to identify with them. His approach – with »material-saving« videos and performances – is not conceived in the vein of criticism but rather pathos, holding the promise of integrity.” (curator: András Bán)
Győző Byhon “has developed his artistic technique with great care over the past fifteen years. He sees urbanisation as a Janus-faced phenomenon: on the one hand it is the highest-level organised process of human society, and on the other hand, when intact nature is encroached upon by buildings, it automatically evokes associations with the notion of ‘Paradise lost’. The paintings exhibited here also erect a memorial to current events that we encounter in the news on a daily basis.” (curator: Zoltán Rockenbauer)
Zsófia Bérczi: “Desert temple. The title of the exhibition invites us to experience the sacredness of the endless desert and the skin that covers our whole body. A spiritual credo unfolds through her pure, often almost geometrical compositions: the pieces of her photographic series can be symbolically seen as the stations of the path towards inner freedom followed by women with their freedom restricted on the outside.” (curator: Ildikó Éri)
Réka Gergely “composes her sculptures from steel and a natural material (wood, coal, ash). Through her choice of material she emphasises the passing of time and shows the stage in an artwork’s history that the artist has no control over, i.e. when it starts living its own life. The idea underpinning her works strikes a perfect balance between Far Eastern and Western philosophies. The approach in her sculpture most closely resembles Japanese aesthetics.” (curator: Mária Kondor-Szilágyi)
Zoltán Bánföldi “simultaneously presents the characteristic features of Vienna in the late 19th century and today in his 26-piece series. For the recipient viewing the superimposed layers the temporal and spatial characteristics of this urban milieu are blurred into each other as are the ancient technique of encaustic painting and the modern techniques of photography and computer technology. His works evoke the uncertainty principle known from quantum physics (Schrödinger’s Cat).” (curator: Réka Fazakas)
Tibor Pataki: “Books have their destinies. This old saying unfolds in Pataki’s works spanning genres. Artists’ books, assemblages, giclée prints, virtual and real book objects and even classical paintings are side by side in confounding ways: we see book destinies or rather human destinies. The rhetorical question is not left unanswered. Pataki’s lyrical canvases are executed with engineering precision and move us profoundly.” (curator: György Szegő)
5 September 2020
György Szegő DLA