Hyperrealism West and East | Artists in the Steel Factory 2011 | Robert Capa – Photographs of D-Day and After | New York, Rio, Tokyo | A Show by Viacheslav and Anna Koleichuk
Gábor Rieder: Hyperrealism West and East
Glistening car bodies, reflecting shop-windows brush-painted or sprayed with microscopic precision. The most virtuoso Ism of the 70s, i.e. Photo-realism has arrived in Hungary at long last.
Not that the international network of Ludwig Museums was too hard pressed presenting a copious material. Founder chocolate manufacturer Peter Ludwig had bought into American Superrealism quite early on. His deposits in Aachen, Vienna and Budapest could quite easily make up a watertight show of Hyperrealism featuring the American superstars just as well as their East-European followers hitherto deprived of fame extending over their respective native countries.
The third leg of this travelling exhibition being in Budapest, the Budapest public can now relish Robert Bechtle’s pictures of cars painted with amazing precision, the trompe l’oeil oil-on-canvas photo reproductions by Malcolm Morley, and of course the huge, candid portraits of Chuck Close with even pieces of hair sticking out of noses.
A compelling show, no doubt. Even if with some smaller works or prints, all the bigshots of American Superrealism are here, like Richard McLean re-painting photographs of winning racehorses, or Robert Cottingham with his re-arrangements of tides of advertisements, and master magician of reflecting shop-windows Richard Estes. Not to speak of the car lovers like Don Eddy (Beetles), John Salt (wrecks abandoned in the desert), Ralph Goings (small town pick-up trucks). Consumer culture straight from the 70s of the US.
Contrasting with this is the reality of contemporary Socialism with its vinyl telephone speakers, littered bus-stops, and economies plagued by universal scarcity. On one wall we can dive into the flood of fancy shoes offered for sale, while right opposite we can see Imre Kocsis’ heart-rending picture of a vacant shop-window with only a dusty bed-sheet hung up, and the grey back of an elderly women as she tries to peek in through the bars of the closed shop.
And there is, of course, István Nyári’s enormous Chicken Casserole with a common but lovable woman sucking on a chicken bone over a makeshift dinner-table. Contrasts are not always possible between West and East as even East-European painters preferred to paint b/w portraits of tourists in Italy, smart guys wearing Western jeans or huge sunglasses. Not to speak of Andrzej Sadowski who could paint Cracow’s streets in a glaring yellow making even the California sunshine pale in comparison. And Tibor Csernus stumbled into his depression in a Paris flea-market.
Truth to be said, some even more glaring pieces of US Superrealism could have been found and the contrast with East European Photorealism could have been made to seem even greater.
As it is, we are left with the recognition that whatever East European photo-realists were doing was done with slightly more conviction than in the US. Which is not surprising since most American superrealists were anti-intellectual to the point of
avoiding even the slightest trace of a social message. Their interests were technical for the most part while Photo-realism in Eastern Europe was part of the Avant-Garde with a built-in political message.
Méhes painted fat party officials soaking in a thermal bath; László Fehér painted obtuse factory hands looking into the commonly owned camera of their work-team. If we are aware of the codes used by those painters, we understand immediately why the painting of an ID blown out of proportion was so important in János Kádár’s “soft dictatorship” in Hungary, and also why a TV-newscast was so important in Poland in 1981.
13 September – 15 January 2012
Artists in the Steel Factory 2011
18 September – 14 October
MissionArt Gallery – Miskolc
For a week in June, artists could move freely in the Miskolc Steel Factory and their performances, short films and videos made there gave rise not only to the present exhibition but also to a communal experience that would have been impossible without their actual presence in the Factory.
Robert Capa – Photographs of D-Day and After
16 September – 20 November
Hungarian Museum of Photography, Kecskemét
The series of photographs on view introduce us to D-Day and the period afterwards through the lens of Robert Capa. The shots were blown up in 1984 for ABC Press and were transferred in the same year into the holding of the Hungarian Museum of Photography.
New York, Rio, Tokyo
13 September – 14 October
What the show tries to capture is the surplus in experience that artists may gather in the places where they live for a longer or shorter period. Artists run by Inda Gallery have not only contributed to this show but have invited some other artists as well. Travel, mobility, migration captured in art, nothing more and nothing less is on offer.
A Show by Viacheslav and Anna Koleichuk
16 September – 31 October
Professor of the Moscow Academy of Architecture Viacheslav Koleichuk is active in the border area between art and science. He employs light with a predilection to the phenomenon of interference arriving at holograms of a very special sort.