Light, Balaton, József Egry | A Selection of Works by János Mattis Teutsch | Glance – A Show by Károly Klimó | Processes IV. Socio-media | Present and Unpresent – A Show by Ryan Schneider
Gábor Rieder: Light, Balaton, József Egry
This time, KOGART are putting paintings by József Egry as feathers in their bonnet. He is the painter of Balaton, and of Light. Over-hackneyed phrases, no doubt, but they are still true today.
The great loner of the inter-war period, dweller of lakeside Badacsony, had his last major exhibition just forty years ago in the National Gallery. At that time, twenty years after his death, his oeuvre was in high esteem: exhibitions both big and small, publications both bulky and slim, a memorial museum in the lakeside house he used to live, and, needless to say, armies of mediocre imitators.
His ethereal dawning conjured up from a few colours and lines had amazed the thirties with its novelty; by the sixties, it had become a popular landscape painters’ gimmick for mass-production and mass-consumption complete with the obligatory silver and gold frames.
Now, strangely, those frames are there around the original paintings, too. We just have to discuss them briefly. However much we would love to attribute history-of-art values to those frames, they tend to bring us down stopping us from taking a fresh look at the pictures. Not that a fresh look is much in demand at KOGART. They seem to work for coalescing sixties tastes with contemporary realism in painting. This exhibition is by no means a critical one; no history-of-art chapters are re-written, no new approaches are suggested, even the obligatory silver and gold frames are left as they once were.
We were too young in the sixties and seventies to have visited exhibitions of Egry but we rather suspect that the choices and the placements were very similar to what we can see at KOGART’s first floor presenting Egry’s mature years.
Yet, the collection seems to work. Egry seems to work even today for all the colonising efforts of hundreds of boat painting technicians. Fleeing the flamboyant life of the Gresham group of painters and collectors, this thin, ascetic lakeside prophet in his ramshackle lakeside peasant house is simply authentic. He is authentic as he sits at the top of a fishermen’s pier, as he pulls down his hat over his eyes, and watches the sun go down day after day. The Sun shines, throwing a magnetic haze over the horizon. This was Egry’s fundamental experience of transcendence.
As he once related, one night he had sailed out with fishermen and their boat was standing still in the middle of the lake. It was then that he sensed he was in the middle of the Infinite. And from then on he painted that sensation in countless forms;
whether he painted a sailing boat standing in a total lull, or a herd of cattle marching into the white of nothing; the circular bands of a rainbow; the gesture of fishermen laying their nets out; the fishing piers wobbling in the reed, and even the charming Italian isle of Isola Bella.
To suit his majestic painting of light, he had prepared a characteristic technique. He first threw a few spots of oil-paint on the sheet of paper, and then he rubbed in pastel-chalk in energetic, inclined lines. His colouring is his trademark; he mixed faded white with Siena red, ochre, and medium blue – a scale fit to amaze the most refined connoisseur, and also extremely sensitive. It is a mystery how it could possibly sink to the lowness of a popular and hackneyed style.
Curators date Egry’s mature period between 1920 and 1944. This had been preceded by two decades of rather productive experimenting. Egry had become a pupil of the Academy of Art as a penniless peasant boy. Yet, owing to his gifts and rich supporters, his career soon soared.
He was also a virtuoso cartoonist influenced by post-Impressionism, the Fauves, and Art Nouveau. Mostly he recorded clumsy, baggy-trousered workmen with sarcasm reminiscent of Toulouse-Lautrec’s. Critics of the Communist era had indeed a hard time concluding to the superiority of the proletariat. We have nothing to do with this ideological impasse, and even though we had no occasion to re-learn Egry, his authenticity is disarming. We even come to understand his imitators.
1 April – 31 July
A Selection of Works by János Mattis Teutsch
9 April – 7 May
Together with Erdész Gallery, the new venue of Bumbum Gallery houses a collection of works of the world renowned Abstract painter, graphic artist, and sculptor János Mattis Teutsch. There is no trace of reminiscence in the works born out of Expressionism, Constructivism, and Abstract art. The pioneering quality of his outstanding series is unequivocal even when compared to the Modernist endeavours of contemporary Russian, West-European, or Czech artists. His early landscapes true to nature were followed by landscapes of more and more abstraction. His watercolours and lino-prints conveyed more of his emotional states that his landscape experiences. His abstract forms are immediate expressions of his sentiments rather than symbols of objects.
Glance – A Show by Károly Klimó
9 April – 6 May
Born in 1936, Károly Klimó belongs to the older generation of Hungarian artists. He used to learn at the Academy of Art with Aurél Bernáth; today, he is one of the best-known Hungarian painters. He is a painter of fiery colours, expressive gestures, and a meditative message. He has long been pre-occupied by the energies arising in the encounter of water and fire, a theme originating in ancient Greek philosophy.
Processes IV. Socio-media
8 April – 14 May
This year’s subtitle ‘Socio-media’ covers works reflecting on social relations in a wide sense, including even animal behaviour and messages to the dead. This is a show of one-channel video works; the only common principle being that all of them feature moving images on a surface.
Present and Unpresent – A Show by Ryan Schneider
7 April – 7 May
Deák Erika Gallery
The main source of inspiration to Ryan Schneider’s paintings is his own life with its past and present tenses. Every work is a “memory collage”, a psychological portrait of his personal relations. His huge canvasses are dominated by glaring colours and powerful strokes. He often records theatrical scenes; mostly, he presents the climax of a bizarre situation such as e.g. a man sitting atop of trees, people locked out of houses, a female figure swimming in a bathtub like a mermaid, or empty glasses on top of a tilting table. Schneider’s art is close to the American figurative school of painting headed by David Hockney.