The collection of works on display in the Principles exhibition explores the parallels between man-made and natural forms. These are highlighted by a puritan installation that shows the individual works as ‘fossils’, deliberately invoking the milieu of a traditional museum.
Bátai’s approach can be linked to his artistic strategy of individual mythology: during his travels and day-to-day life he searches untiringly for the marks of time in his built, material or natural surroundings. He takes imprints of surfaces, then transfers the markings to impregnated paper or makes paper castings of them. The patterns obtained in this way are layered and blended to create delicate reliefs. His working method is a unique path of discovery and concealment; his artwork-fossils are (memory) traces, fragments, ‘material samples’.
The title refers to the beginnings: the foundation on which we build something, and which shapes our fate. Life stages, turning points and transitional periods are stratified and integrated, experiences are aggregated, creating surfaces and structures that overlay and merge into one another.
Our attention, as we assimilate the content that interests us, takes on a spiral shape: our understanding is broadened, but at the same time our doubts also multiply. The means of expression may change with time, but the initial elements of content, which were established by our traditions and schools, are eternal. It is these timeless, fundamental values that Bátai sets out to present in the Principles series spanning three decades. He does not display pictures titles and dates alongside the individual works. This is another way of emphasising a thought expressed by many: that the artist works on ‘a single picture’ throughout his career.
The ancient, symbolic knowledge expressed in art has not been lost to modern humankind: its meaning is there to be discovered, and its hidden paths to be invoked. This is precisely its essence: it is always reincarnated in a different form, inspiring thought and needing interpretation. The exhibition is a call to contemplation: within the broad space of the intellect, we can ruminate on the magical impulses and secrets of art, and in this context, on our feelings and experiences that are difficult to express – on existence itself.
Curator: Zsuzsanna Tulipán