The Drawings, Pictures memorial exhibition of the painter Kovács Péter – Pet’R – showcases a selection of works highlighting the oeuvre’s distinguishing features. Besides showing a few pieces from the early stages of the artist’s career, the exhibition focuses on the most important, individual pieces created as the oeuvre matured from the 1990s onwards.
Influenced by Béla Kondor’s pioneering work, as a painter Péter Kovács was already fascinated by the synthesis of the classical and the modern while studying at college in the 1960s. As a part of these efforts, in the 1970s, he created seated and prone figures, tense scenes and compositions interpreted with a captivating, expressive approach in closely cropped, enclosed spaces. His works featured anxious, harassed figures, presented in a predominantly dramatic tone with gloomy connotations. The atmosphere of the works was permeated with harassment, anxiety, fear, suppression and the premonition or threat of some kind of tragedy or the sense of a dramatic outcome.
From the 1980s, his work showed a progressive shift in theme and technique: The earlier genre paintings composed within the regular constraints of the artform gave over to recurring ‘single’, ‘double’ and, more rarely, ‘triple’ body representations—featuring one, two or three characters—as well as depictions of faces and fantasy portraits. Besides the diptychs and triptychs drawn on large sheets of paper, his art is also characterised by sketch-like, yet mature and complete medium and hand-sized compositions. He laminated the larger works onto canvas to create a paper-based picture evocative of an oil painting, while the small drawings appear as standalone pictures or groups of freehand drawings arranged like an iconostasis. Beyond these formal contexts and characteristics, the works are also arranged in casually formed thematic units: These include the Cell and Pit Test representations, the Creature pictures, the suspended drawings, the ‘mouldy’ and ‘rusty’ compositions and the Face Finder works. In these, the thin, shaky line that seems to run aimlessly across the paper suddenly tangles into a frantic knot, and sometimes into a dark patch or pattern of blotches, and then unexpectedly resolves into the body and head figures enshrouded in the enigmas of unrecognizability. Apart from the body and face, or rather the abstract line forming the body and face, there is nothing specific in these works: There are no surroundings—or only the occasional, seemingly coincidental, atmospheric object—there are no attributes, no signs, no signals, no symbols. In other words, the message of the works, the deciphering and interpretation of their meanings also has to be attempted in the domains of generally valid fundamental questions and transcendental doubts of existence. There is only stifling, airless space, only the body and face concentrated within this gaping void, which is where they unfold before the viewer
As the substantive and iconographic reference points are lost, the factors of technical definability also become uncertain: Péter Kovács has formulated a system of painting and graphic art tools that can no longer be approached with the generally accepted ‘mixed media’ definition. His works are unified painting and graphic art compositions laid down on paper and canvas, modern to the core yet carrying the promise of classical eras. The colours, patches and lines are not subordinated or complementary to each other; where every element retains its autonomy, so that together they meld into an enchanting, compact pictorial unit, a captivating expression.
Curator: Tibor Wehner