Zsolt Asztalos’ Absent People | Between Two Periods – Persian Art in the Qadjar Period (1796-1925) | Systema Naturae – A Show by Gyula Várnai | Desire – A Show by Eszter Csurka | C.E.Z.Ú.R.A. (Break) – A Show by Zsolt Tibor
Attila Kondor: Zsolt Asztalos’ Absent People
Strange as it may sound, Zsolt Asztalos has exhibited human presence at Székesfehérvár. The huge blocks of polystyrene put on pallets reveal the negative moulds of human bodies, each with its peculiar shape and features. It is such blocks of polystyrene cast to size and shape that are used to protect hi-fi equipment and other fragile objects from potential damage. The extra-light-weight sarcophaguses we are faced with at the show are, however, vacant – the fragile objects they were meant to protect had been removed. Looking at those peculiarly anthropomorph blocks of foam one is hard pressed to visualise an earlier encounter of this commercial, highly neutral material with living human bodies. Inevitably, for interpretation one is guided on to the faces we see elsewhere at the show, i.e. on the walls treating us to Asztalos’ public art project.
The Citylight series presents snapshots of neon-lit posters from around downtown Budapest. The posters are frontal representations of heads of all sorts of people against a brilliantly white background as if they were so many huge passport-photos. Yet, getting immersed in those portraits appearing in public places we are getting slowly, inexplicably closer to the true meaning of those polyfoam sarcophaguses. On one photograph picturing a night-time tramstop there are two neon-lit posters facing each other. The woman looks us in the eye while the man droops his face. This minimal difference in movement kicks in a chain of emotional associations. Our imagination creates a link between those two persons even though each photograph is meant to speak only for itself.
Posters are perhaps the most habitual sights in focal points of civilised spaces. The faces on giant posters look down on passers-by in sync with spin tactics propped up by carefully composed copies.
The entire industry of marketing is built on the psychological make-up of man; faces, too, are selected according to the goals to be achieved, i.e. they are to stir carefully calculated longings. The industry therefore needs surveys of the precise mechanisms occurring, surveys that can lay the groundwork for calculations. Behaviourism suits those purposes ideally. The deepest urge in promotion and marketing is the wish to sell, and as much as possible. You cannot sell something that stirs no longing in potential buyers. The logic is primitive, and the psychology, mechanical. Withing this system of thinking the longing-arousing body on the wrapping of a product is inordinately overvalued right until the moment of sale. The pictures of bodies after the sale, however, are mere empty shells even though they carry the proportions of flesh-and-blood people – like the blocks of foam on those pallets.
Poster faces without the aim of promotion, anthropomorphous wrappings without content – those are refined tools of communication made to work upon objects of our contemporary world. They are precise and sensible statements rather than high-sounding opinions. The portrait photographs of the Citylight project are there to represent their own objects, i.e. the faces of persons without any ulterior motive. The looks of those portraits attract our attentions like living pairs of eyes do. Man is not at all a sum total of the psychological and behavioural mechanisms he/she appears to exhibit. He/she refuses to act in keeping with those mechanisms – as does the ideal target of advertising.
King Saint Stephen Museum, Székesfehérvár
13 November 2010 – 28 February
Between Two Periods – Persian Art in the Qadjar Period (1796-1925)
27 January – 18 September
Arts and Crafts Museum
This exhibition organised by Budapest’s Ferenc Hopp East-Asia Arts Museum introduces us into a period of Iranian art marked politically by the rule of the Qadjar dynasty. This period saw Iran gain its present geographical outlines as well as the foundations of its modern administrative and infrastructural shape. Yet, it is the period’s craftsmen who take the leading role in animating the exhibition: potters, silversmiths, painters, calligraphers, weavers, jewellers, engravers, wood-carvers, etc.
Systema Naturae – A Show by Gyula Várnai
27 January – 24 February
acb Contemporary Arts Gallery
Borrowing the title of Carl von Linné’s book of 1735, Gyula Várnai wishes to replicate the Swedish naturalist’s efforts at creating a new paradigm of our knowledge about Nature. His approach is just as fundamental as his previous attempts reflecting on the peculiarity of human cognition: from perception through registering right on to systemisation. He is critical of Modernism’s deep-seated reflexes vis à vis science, reflexes that have become untenable by now.
Desire – A Show by Eszter Csurka
27 January – 20 March
Municipal Gallery – Kiscelli Museum
The visitor hovers in a very attractive and immense space with a lot of height overhead and with uncertain darkness underneath. In the distance and up close there are beckoning spectacles of attractive objects. The visitor may start along different routes with those objects getting closer at times, and getting more distant at other times. The show presents some recents works by Eszter Csurka as well as some curious pieces specially prepared for the show.
C.E.Z.Ú.R.A. (Break) – A Show by Zsolt Tibor
26 January – 12 March
Zsolt Tibor attempts to accomplish a present-day interpretation of draughtsmanship with the means of acril and oil painting, cellotape, projections, and everyday objets trouvés, but first and foremost, the pencil (’ceruza’ in Hungarian, a pun on the show’s title). It is by using the pencil that he prepares his small drawings on graph paper with the intention of finding a niche for the art of drawing amid our present-day habits of perception and exploration.