Imre Bak


Soon after acb Gallery closed the exhibition celebrating Imre Bak’s 80th birthday on 2020.03.08. and the Covid-19 coronavirus grew into a pandemic causing a global lockdown, Bak started to work on a new series. Bak choose to create small collage formats, a genre which he hasn’t used since the early 1980s. For the collages Bak has recycled sheets out of his silkscreen folder, which was produced by the gallery on the occasion of his jubilee exhibition. His collages, which are entitled Situation reflect on the incredibly quickly occured, previously unimaniganable and widespread changes of our everyday life and routines.

The artist consciously choose a quick medium like the collage, which makes him capable to almost instantly reflect on our reality. With this artistic gesture Imre Bak departed from his metaphyschically complex, minimalist big format paintings: he reframed and reassambled his previous works recently exhibited in acb Gallery in a distracted, deconstructed format. His new works thus reflect on the global phenomenon that solid, previously unchallenged solid and seemingly harmonic structures crumble and fall apart under the immense pressure of the reality. The new works of Bak don’t reflect fear and despair, they articulate a state of flux and the consequences of change.

Imre Bak at the age of 81 still choose an experimental position potentially reconfiguring his painterly visuality rather than evading reality. The freshness, the coolness and the wildness of the new works are all demonstrating the uniqueness of the artist, who was never afraid to face change during his career and he always focused on how new structures may rise from the older ones also in his paintings. The braveness and the restless curiosity of Imre Bak manifests itself this time in these small-scale works, but on the other hand these collages are proof of the solidness of Bak’s artistic program, which makes them absolutely special in the oeuvre.

The new unconventional collages of Imre Bak can be viewed in an unconventional format in the virtual space of acb Attachment, with the help of Walter's Cube software and a downloadable pdf. As a consequence of the situation unfolding in the light of the pandemic, acb Gallery had to cancel the rents of it’s acb NA and acb Attachment spaces. In the frame of the Panic Room exhibition series acb still organizes virtual exhibition projects in it’s Attachment space.

"I have an imprinted practice since a long time, how I should deal with my work independently from my daily circumstances. If I work, the world disappears for me, but against my will it still infiltrates my images. This effect is now much more powerful, first of all it effects my nervous system. And this circumstance makes me go into defense mode: art is art – it is not an illustration of our everydays, even if this situation in which we are now has an exceptional scale. 

I have been thinking for a long time, like Santarcangeli wrote, art has the following function: „The artwork assumes the knowledge of death, the biggest horror of all, and it is born in order to conquer the horror of this unknown.” So this situation strengthens the pristine function of art for me.

I always had “fanaticism” for work; this helps me get through tough situations. This is a not a faith in my own importance. I believe making art is the duty of my life, and I want to execute this trustorthily, whatever the circumstances are."

Excerpts of the interview of Imre Bak during the quarantine made by Nóra Winkler.

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