Károly Kismányoky

Points of View

Venue: acb NA
Date: Jan 13 – Feb 24, 2017

Károly Kismányoky (1943), together with four fellow artists – Ferenc Ficzek (1947-1987), Károly Halász (1946-2016), Sándor Pinczehelyi (1946) and Kálmán Szijártó (1946) – was a founding member of the Pécsi Műhely / Pécs Workshop. His experimenting and questioning nature led him to deny the fixed, finalized form of artwork and to focus on the process rather than the result – the living activity rather than the lifeless product. This signified a position of challenge with respect to the constructivist and geometric legacy of Pécs – a city that can be regarded as the cradle of Hungarian Bauhaus – which also defined its architectural environment, artistic positions and intellectual attitudes. Kismányoky, however, made no attempt to oppose these currents, instead placing emphasis on a different aspect of the Bauhaus by drawing on its spirit which was very open and supportive of versatility. In the active years of the Pécs Workshop, he engaged mostly in land art actions, concept photography and performance. Later, in the ‘80s, he turned to animation and documenting the urban environment.

As part of our series presenting the shared and individual paths of members of the Pécs Workshop, the acb NA hosts Károly Kismányoky’s first solo exhibition. The show features a selection from the unique photographic material of the artist – who is also known as the initiator of the Workshop’s landscape interventions – in which the human eye appears as a motif and political symbol. The series known as Gazes/Watchful Eyes was created in 1973, when the Pécs Workshop made its second appearance at the Chapel Exhibitions at Balatonboglár, organized by György Galántai. The event and its art milieu probably affected Károly Kismányoky deeply – just as Károly Halász’s series High Stand did – as the thematic of the series clearly reflects on the dismal cultural political conditions of the seventies and the state surveillance of progressive art circles. From 1973 onward, as a result of these Balatonboglár impulses, such themes began to appear in Kismányoky’s photos as Replacement, Concealment, Masking, Burning and Sinking which consistently outline a concentrated interest in the process and transformation, coupled with the artist’s serial thinking.

The material displayed in the NA space of the acb Gallery consists mostly of works in which photo cut-outs of eyes are placed in the landscape – in a tree, in the grass, on a bush, on a flower, on a stone, or on the ground – and on elements, or in public spaces, of the urban environment – on the sidewalk, on the road, on the wall of a house, or on a lamp post. These watchful eyes comprise the subject of symbolically loaded activities and forms – burning, sweeping, covering the eyes of a live model, or cracks in the earth whose pattern resembles the shape of Hungary – appearing as countless ephemeral and critical interventions. The exhibition also features an enamel work created by the artist in 1970, which depicts a Moebius strip and an elaborate pattern. These not only engage in a dialogue of forms with the eyes watching from the wall, but, by alluding to a transformation of shapes, a reorganization of landscape, and relationships within space, they also resonate with the phenomenon and conceptual domains of looking.

Show more