Personal | Fresh 2021 | Tibor iski Kocsis : Night Landing

Night Landing[1]

An introduction to the exhibition of Tibor iski Kocsis


Since the artist conceived the exhibition as an integral whole, the title also provides a degree of guidance concerning the interpretation of the artwork. The title triggers a number of associative trajectories in the visitor-recipient and is therefore worth analysing at length. The term ‘landing’ has a very positive connotation generally, as it carries the emotional surplus of arrival and safety. The Earth, with both capital and small initials, is the basis of our existence. Let us just think of the myth of Antaeus, who gained new strength by touching the earth. Landing also has a strong psychological and cultural surplus. For example, participants of a difficult boat trip or flight may kiss the ground upon arrival, i.e. they touch the ground in gratitude. The adjective night, on the other hand, adds to the emotional charge of the title with its touch of mystery and anticipation: in the night there is also the fearful presence of the unknown, because at night the sun – the source of light, life and security, and the basis for knowing things - is absent, so landing at night means both leaving a risky venture behind and starting the challenge of another unknown.

The installation includes oil on canvas paintings, charcoal drawings, photographs and silverpoint drawings. The artist selects his subjects from the phenomena of nature and from the relics of art and human culture. The interpretative eye automatically begins to seek that which  connects images of things that are often distant from each other, both in space and conceptually. The chosen forms of representation (photography, charcoal, pencil) would also by their precision support observation, if we did not know that Tibor iski Kocsis - as an admittedly conceptual artist - does not want to show us the landscape itself, but something through the landscape.

The triptych depicting the rocky desert of the Moon in a monumental charcoal drawing, the huge coniferous canopy and the antique torso, the drawing copy of the Holbein portrait and the seascape drawing – all have something strange, elusive and disconcertingly superhuman about them. Philosophy has created the category of the sublime for this. It was already known in antiquity, defined by Pseudo-Longinus, for example, as a force ‘uplifting’ the human soul in a poem or a rhetorical speech. The English philosopher Edmund Burke wrote an influential book on the sublime and the beautiful.[2] He emphasises the effect of the sublime in creating a sense of dread and danger in the recipient associating the sublime with obscurity, darkness and power, i.e. sublime is everything we are subordinated to, while in his view, beautiful things are subordinated to us. Still, he attributes a positive effect to the sublime, because in a way it strengthens the soul, in the same way that the effort of persistent work strengthens the body. In contrast to classical beauty, the sublime has become the new, rebellious central idea of Romanticism. And in fact, the desire for the sublime unknown, with its emphasis on the strange and the new, lived on in modernism, too.

And here we are: night landing – is there anything more majestic, and spine-chilling that nevertheless uplifts and strengthens the soul at the same time? Is the exhibition therefore an attempt to capture and depict the sublime? But the paintings of Tibor iski Kocsis representing landscapes cannot actually be called landscapes in the classical, romantic or modernist sense, since their primary concern is not to capture the natural element, but to support an idea. Perhaps the most obvious example is the positioning of an oil painting representing the clouds of the Earth’s sky obliquely above and beside the large triptych of the lunar landscape. As soon as it becomes clear to us that the painting is in fact two photographs of clouds, superimposed on each other, we might realise that it is not so much these distant things we are confronted with, but rather the impossibility of representing or depicting the sublime.

Thus in the present exhibition the artist does not simply show some works one by one, but rather, by weaving together his previous statements as an integral text – or a tapestry of images – he explores and reveals his own method of thinking. In doing so, he strives to surpass the usual method of drawing a balance and reviewing, so that retrospection simultaneously raises the option of introspection. The composition of past and present works into a single installation emphasises the timelessness of creative thought, while at the same time reflects upon the question of the maturation of personality over time: is the young artist who was active in the late 1990s the same as the artist preparing for this exhibition? Iski says, “I often find that the subject of the piece I am working on at the moment is still foreign and unknown to me, and I am unsure why exactly I chose it. Then a year or two pass and I finally understand the reason for my earlier decision. In this way the set of my works build each other’s narratives and formulate a story that includes the painterly idea and programme as much as the search for the question of our existence embedded in our cultural context, the posing of this question and the visual articulation of my attempts to respond.”

The exhibition of the works as an installation of images reveals the thought processes of the artist, guiding the visitor’s gaze and direction of thought, enabling the appearance of cross-references in the exhibition space. On the two longer walls the works are arranged as a mosaic, while on the two shorter ones the two central elements, the lunar landscape (LUNA 7, 2014/2015 – 12 December 1972)[3] and the forest landscape (Deconstructed Forest, 2021) are shown in dialogue with each other. The lunar landscape shares this section of the wall with a work featuring two clouds (Untitled, Liberty Cycle 3, 2019), while the forest section ‘converses’ with the picture of an airy pine tree painted in white (Sensitivity II, 2008). In the case of the two main images installed on the two smaller wall surfaces there is a strong juxtaposition between us and the foreign environment, i.e. the forest scene where we are at home and where living conditions are given to us, as opposed to the barren lunar landscape, which is a reference to another planet where we would not be able to survive without technology.

Such a presentation of images offers the visitor a narrative reflection: of culture, of the observation of nature and the universe, as well as of the created world. Iski offers a systematic approach in this, reinterpreting the creative processes in time and space. Pieces from previous series are not only given a broader interpretation, but also evoke the artist’s former persona, his former state of maturity and comprehension, comparing them to the degree of comprehension of the person who is creating in the present.


Mária Kondor-Szilágyi

curator of the exhibition


[1] The title of the exhibition was inspired by the poetry book of Zita Izsó with the same title (Éjszakai földet érés, 2020, Scolar Kiadó).

[2] Edmund Burke: A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, London, 1757

[3] For the LUNA-series the year 1972 is of special prevalence, since it is also the year when the artist was born, thus the series also have a personal aspect.

2021. December 15. - 2022. February 13.
2021. December 8. - 2022. February 20.
Previous exhibition

A Fantasy Come True | Exhibition of Líviusz Gyulai

2021. December 18. - 2022. February 13.
Next exhibition

COUNTDOWN – The Art of Márton Barabás