Gábor Farkas


Venue: acb Attachment
Date: Feb 28 – Apr 10, 2014

“The arrow is born of a thought: how can I transcend myself and get there,
even past this river, this lake, this mountain?”
(Paul Klee: Pedagogical Sketchbook)

This selection is not only a mini-retrospective. Nor is it some kind of cross-section. Rather, it is the detail, or piece, of a pattern arranged and shaped by time: a chamber exhibition rendered “timely” by the intersecting “paths” of momentary life situations and research directions, and the – sometimes coincidental – coming together of “as-if-objects”. It is a subjective selection – 12 objects – from a period lasting approximately 16 or 17 years, beginning in the early 90s. These are long lost pictures that tolerate – and perhaps enhance – one another’s presence, works that have remained elusive or have been hanging on the walls of friends, and pieces of art that, following their exhibition (The Butterfly Effect, Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle, Budapest, 1996), were placed in museum deposit (Hungarian National Gallery).  These are “current coordinates”, which, at the same time, serve as reference points in tracing a life path to the present day.

The goal is to keep a life path on the surface of consciousness; a life path, which first began in parallel with – and then continued in separation from (1994) – the story of the Újlak Group, and which, because of alternating periods of disappearances and reappearances, has acquired a kind of mythic aura. Thus, the objective is to once again consider the works which “arrive” irregularly and in groups of varying sizes, and which can be seen only from time to time. Let us regard them as a nomadic journal, as “landmarks” on an operation map, which give an account of periods of continuous movement and journeying, when – irrespective of genre or medium – the activity that produces the artwork once again becomes important.           

“from close up, you can’t hear it,
and, even from far away, you can only perceive the wire spinning near the earth,
between two works of art.”
(Ferenc Szijj: [31])

This too is a subjective and far from the complete selection: possible vectors and indicators within the coordinate system of “as-if-objects”, Duchamp and the ephemeral category of the “infra-thin”, Paul Klee’s Pedagogical Sketchbook from 1925, Dezső Tandori’s graphics, and the artistic community of the Újlak Group.
The “as-if-object” is a transitional genre: it can be a photo painting and/or photo action, process- and event-based installation, set design, painting graph, scroll picture, double-sided glass painting, or a shadow image captured by a mobile phone.
In the present constellation of 2014: ¾ musical note portrait, a painting graph depicting a birth chart and planetary alignments from 1991, a conjunction of coordinates structuring the oscillation of lines and colours. The pairing of a “souvenir” – a partially “recycled” advertising box of the Újlak Cinema – and another seemingly ephemeral and, at the same time, precisely executed, transparent art object – Thought Diagram. A duo of double-sided glass paintings: transparent demonstration (image) surfaces: the steps of basic logical formulae sketched out as “illustrative figures”. There are two readings, two vantage points: not only because of the two transposed, ghostly image layers but also because of their combination with directions aimed at self-definition. It is this line, dealing with self-reflexive spatiality and perception, that is amplified in the calligraphic, handwritten thought-enclosures of the scrolls, as well as in the word associations recorded on the pages of the emptied sticker-booklet with such “loose typography” and psychologizing honesty. The double-faceted glass plates of the As-if-object (2007)with their two smooth sides fitting together and their lacquer-marker scribbles, serve as an example of how the meaning of appropriated (simple and compound) words that are “placed into images, paintings, and concepts” can be expanded. 

„– behind multiple incognito lies expanded painting.”
(János Sugár: The Újlak Group as working method

Gábor Farkas (1965, Szombathely) is a visual artist with a background in photography, as well as a founding member and photo documentator of the Újlak Group (1989-1994). Not surprisingly, his early works are experimentations with the technical possibilities and medium of photography (photo actions and manipulated photo paintings) and pictures utilizing diagrams and coordinate systems of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. As part of the community-based energies channeled into Újlak’s intellectual and (“recycled”) physical spaces, he created time-based installations and actions using natural processes, as well as photo-based works operating with chemicals (developing and fixing fluid).  In 1994, he left the group. Between 1991 and 1995, he shot four short and experimental films at the Balázs Béla Studio. In 1996, his large-scale glass paintings were featured at the Butterfly Effect exhibition (Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle, Budapest).  At the turn of 1996/1997, he traveled to Asia for some months (China, India, and Tibet). Following his return, he presented his colour photos shot in Tibet (C3, Budapest, 1997), and his handwritten, calligraphic, artificial silk “scroll pictures”, which incorporated the experiences of his trip (Studio Gallery, Budapest, 1997). After a long hiatus, he exhibited glass, paper, and textile works in 2005 at the Liget Gallery. His last exhibition to date was held in 2006 in the Herman Hall of the Fészek Gallery. While his exhibited pieces continued in the direction of the Liget Gallery works, here the handwritten thought fragments – alluding to experience and perception –, repeated “keywords”, crossed out and overwritten details were presented as a kind of wall montage, with its pieces offering interpretations of one another. They became ever more personal and, thus, more difficult to decode, as entries in a disintegrating notebook, falling apart at the seams.    

The creation of Gábor Farkas’s objects – their genre and mode of presentation – is defined by the perspective of existence and personal life situations, as well as the “task”, experience and “interpretive movement” that follow from these. This, in turn, results in unique and sensual conceptualism (sometimes reminiscent of Arte Povera), made of temporally superimposed and connected layers of materials, genres, themes, and meanings. A kind of oscillation of meanings is created: works of art that combine spontaneity, planning, and minimalism in varying proportions, and which have an increasing tendency to elude and evade obvious explanations and approaches.

László Százados, art historian
Translated by Zsófia Rudnay

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