Gyula Várnai


Venue: acb Gallery
Date: Nov 11 – Dec 15, 2016

The concept of Gyula Várnai’s latest exhibition originates in his new series of collages started in 2013. In addition to the newest pieces in the series, the exhibition features Várnai’s recent objects and installations, as well as a work from 1991, which – within the bounds of the current concept – recalls the early stage of the artist’s career.

In terms of media, the exhibited artworks are related to the genre of collage, with origins in the classical avant-garde, but the prevailing approach is unequivocally Gyula Várnai’s. Already at the beginning of his career as an artist in the late 1980s, Várnai was interested in making object art out of everyday objects and their components, and this predilection for quotidian object culture has not subsided to this day. The peculiarity of his use of objects lies in the fact that the he rarely treats the objects he incorporates into his works as self-referential – whether they be newspaper cut-outs, doors, magnetic tapes, books or anything else; most of the time they are merely functional, as constituents of the artwork’s medium. Then again, one of the most characteristic features of Várnai’s art is that the medium has fundamental significance in the concept of each piece, and therefore has a similar role in shaping the layers of meaning and the readings proffered by the work. In the currently exhibited piece entitled Special Prize, the newspaper strips shaping a chalice, the mixing head of the blender and the rest of the components neither represent themselves, nor are they merely present as materials or formal components: the associations they give rise to endow the piece with further layers of meaning. A similar principle is manifested in the works Law of Large Numbers, Oldenburg 3 and Fractal, while in the case of the series How to Draw Strength from Others, Várnai resorts to the device of visual tautology.

Gyula Várnai (1956) is an influential member of the generation of neoconceptual artists emerging in the early 1990s. His most characteristic genre is installation, but he also works in countless other media. Having had university education in mathematics and physics and autodidactic studies in astronomy, music and fine art, Várnai’s themes navigate along the fine line between the artistic and the quotidian; he prefers using scientific references in his works. His art has been represented at a number of exhibitions in Hungary and abroad; his latest solo show took place in Maribor, Slovenia. His project Peace on Earth! will be exhibited at the Hungarian Pavilion of the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017, based on Zsolt Petrányi’s curatorial concept.

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