Market in Black in Vienna – Viennafair | Hero Recycle – A Show by András (b) Baranyai | Eating the Beard – A Show by Michaël Borremans | Bozgor (Rootless) – A Show by Tamás Páczai Tamás | STUDIOVISIT – A Show by Alexander Tinei and Bazil Duliskovich | STUDIOVISIT – A Show by Alexander Tinei and Bazil Duliskovich | California – A Show by Sándor Bodó, János Fodor, Tibor Horváth, and Csaba Uglár
Gábor Rieder: Market in Black in Vienna – Viennafair
For the seventh time, Vienna has again come forth with the biggest art market of the region, one that has become a favourite haunt for Hungarian experts. Along with Austrian contemporaries, it is East-European artists again who are on the front burner. What Austria does here is play go-between for the savages, the latter being those unkempt East-European contemporary artists, offering to mediate some of their exotic ware to the highest echelons of the global art market. Once the seat of the Kaiser whose subjects had rather conservative tastes, Vienna has recognised its favourable geo-political location rather cleverly, and handles the mediator role quite well, but the set-up is still very-very awkward for East-Europeans.
The truth is that whenever the well-to-do Euro-Atlantic public feels like having a shiver in the spine, the unkempt East-European natives are only too willing to oblige with some of the seedier niches of their home turf whether it’s damp apartments, torn-up street posters, or brutal violence, whether through prints, lightboxes, or oil paintings. Seedy housing estates and portraits of dictators – those are typical East-European souvenirs at modest prices meant specifically for civilised Westerners.
Uncrowned kings of this trade are the Russians and Post-Soviets delivering such terrifying Calibans as e.g. Oleg Kulik. What with their longing to be taken for Europeans, Hungarians are rather at a loss in this game unlike the Romanians or the Serbians who are only too willing to partake of the business opportunities. Joint-venture Knoll and Krinzinger Galleries are extremely busy exporting bizarre „cultural fetishes” – not that Viennafair as a whole is idle. Viennafair is out to supply that certain spicy extra ingredient that makes it worthwhile for even an upmarket art-collector to fly in here on his private jet.
Austrian galleries are in a different category altogether. With fewer restrictions, a lot more Austrian artists can make it here from an extremely wide scene. There are the pleasant, decorative Abstract masters side by side with aging Avant-Garde artists like Weibel or Nitsch presenting their old photographs only recently dusted off, and of course the courageously experimental upstarts with their photo-realism or giant Pop Art canvasses.
However, if we discount one or two Austrian galleries with quite colourful offerings, the overall picture is black and white. Recklessness and joyfulness are all but gone from an international art market maimed by the financial crunch. (Some kind of revival is palpably in the offing.) What has remained is melancholy resignation. It is a seldom sight to meet so many large black drawings in black frames – as conceptual works, of course. Paperworks prevail; paintings are mostly monochromatic in brooding rather than exhilarating colours, silently murmuring the inevitable question to themselves: „What after all is art?” It is hardly an accident that there are so many inverted oil paintings turning their backsides and stretchers to the spectators. So many blind alleys, one would have thought. Or rather so many tabula rasas signalling that the art of painting has reached its rock bottom; at least now it has somewhere to rise from.
Sensationalism is catered by huge, framed photographs rather than oil paintings. Quite successfully, in fact. Street Art has gone completely out of fashion; sculpture has modestly taken a backstage place behind designer objects.
Messe Wien, Vienna
12 May – 15 May
Eating the Beard – A Show by Michaël Borremans
13 May – 26 June
One of the principal exponents of contemporary Belgian art, Michaël Borremans searches for Freudian answers to the anxieties of our daily lives. He uses a riddle-laden, poetic pictorial language reviving Surrealist traditions. On his pictures emanating a brooding mood we can see peculiar objects, details, and angles prompted by the painter’s passion for psychological analysis and meditation.
Hero Recycle – A Show by András Baranyai (b)
14 May – 5 June
Roham Gallery – Budapest
Called András Baranyai (b) for short to distinguish him Called from an older András Baranyai, the young artist has recently graduated from the Graphics Department of the Moholy-Nagy Arts University. He likes to turn everyday situations upside down, adding some esoteric motifs soaked in an absurd humour. In his latest works he places toy figures of then70s and 80s into new contexts.
Bozgor (Rootless) – A Show by Tamás Páczai Tamás
13 May – 26 June
House of Hungarian Photographers (Manó Mai House)
Winner of a competition run last year by the Young Photographers’ Studio and the House of Hungarian Photographers, Tamás Páczai has earned the chance to exhibit his photographs of dogs run over by traffic, elderly men with cataracts, biting frost in Transylvania, narrow alleyways in Holland, swans taking the Sun, tulips in artificial light – all meant to express the rootlessness of Páczai whether at home in Transylvania under Romanian rule, or guest-working in Holland.
STUDIOVISIT – A Show by Alexander Tinei and Bazil Duliskovich
12 May – 11 June
Erika Deák Gallery
Placed in the focus of both artists’ attention is the human body. Both create their figurative works using existing pictures, photos, newspaper cuttings as their source of inspiration. Bazil Duliskovich is a Ukrainian, Alexander Tinei a Romanian re-settled in Hungary. The gallery presents the setting of an artist’s studio with sketches, works in progress, drawings lying about in abundance.
California – A Show by Sándor Bodó, János Fodor, Tibor Horváth, and Csaba Uglár
12 May – 19 June
Trafó – House of Contemporary Arts
All four artists follow a neo-conceptual route in startling and often insulting ways. Although all four are doing peripheral jobs in Hungary’s cultural scene, knowing about them is a must for anyone interested in the true outlook of Hungary’s present culture.