Eperjesi Ágnes: The Other Way Around
2021.04.15 - 05.21
The Other Way Around is the first solo exhibition of Ágnes Eperjesi at the acb Gallery. She has been making the now presented colour photogram series since 2013, continuing her earlier works based on the colour relations.
Photogram as a medium is especially important to Eperjesi. She extends the paradigmatic role of the “direct print” in art to light as well, thereby including the medium of photogram among the sphere of anachronistic (at once archaic and current) prints, to use Georges Didi-Huberman’s term. In the case of photogram, the contact with light results in darkening, and the absence of light appears as a positive form – moreover, not only the tones, but also the colours yield their complementary pairs at the end of the process: everything is seen as the inverse of normal, putting our quotidian experience to the test. This is what the exhibition’s title refers to.
Eperjesi’s creative method also reflects on the creative process behind the exhibited photograms. In 2013, she began experimenting with folding colour light-sensitive material back onto itself – thereby fixing a colour phenomenon on the medium while also imprinting the spatiality, distortion, variability and transience of the same phenomenon. At the same time, this folding also serves as a key to the configuration of the colours that appear on the photo paper. As the artist herself phrased, she is interested in the nature of bigger changes arising from the synergy of smaller changes, as well as the possibilities that lie in turning points and recording the impression of all of these. She is interested in situations that we can observe in the midst of change, in their very transience – especially ones that are capable of self-reflection in the course of transition and change. Although she gives form to her observations of this kind using other media as well, the photogram as a medium inherently bears the possibility of representing self-reflexive processes.
Eperjesi explores the various potentials of the medium in an almost scientifically methodical manner, while indeed thinking of them in terms of a dimension with its own meaning. Previously, in her project Colour Matters (2009), which manifested in three related exhibitions, she created the schematics of an empirical colour theory, questioning the fundamentals and the conditions of our colour perception. Based on a statement by her master Dóra Maurer, in terms of which engagement with colour necessarily leads to abstraction, Eperjesi approached colours on her own terms and with her own devices: at two of the Colour Matters exhibitions, she sought possibilities of bringing colours into play in common ways while avoiding abstraction. At the exhibition Nothing Beyond Colours, then, she presented abstract works as well, the creation of which was made possible by the medium of photogram.
The photogram series exhibited at the acb Gallery continue the previous light- and colour studies, exploring the possibilities of cameraless photography, the correlations of colours and abstraction, questions of colour perception and the ways in which we relate to abstraction. The exhibited works record the inverse process of arriving at primary colours by means of secondary colours. Made between 2013 and 2021, the photograms on display here test the encounter of coloured light and photo paper in a photographic situation that is different from previous endeavours. Made predominantly without the interposition of tools and objects, these photograms make use of pure light and the varying positions of the photo paper in giving rise to abstract formations that visualise the ways in which spatiality is capable of modulating colour.
In the piece Six Steps Towards a Consensual Colour Theory (2021), the artist presents a photographic colour wheel, projecting a consensus in terms of colour theory tailored to the medium of photography. For the colour photogram simultaneously exploits the method of additive colour mixing, which yields a gradually lighter result, as well as the potential in subtractive colour mixing, in which the gradual combination of pigments ultimately results in black.
In making the photograms of the Colour in Slit (2014) series, Eperjesi cut two crossing slits into a sheet of light-sensitive paper into which she inserted a funnel made by curling a sheet of translucent coloured paper, Projected onto the photo paper, not only do the overlapping layers of the sheet yield different shades of the same colour, but the procedure also gives rise to other, unexpected colours, subverting our customary experiences of colour perception. As the original crossing slits are left slightly open in the finished pieces, the photograms are also endowed with a delicate three dimensional character, conserving and revealing the process of their creation.
The two series of Folded Colour also exploit the spatiality and its colour-altering effects created by cutting and folding the photo paper. The series of five made in 2013 makes use of the effect of the colour filters built into the enlarger used for exposing the paper, and the series of four from 2020 uses the effect of the colour components of coloured transparent paper that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye.
The exposed paper stripes of the photogram objects titled Continuous and Gradual Transitions (2020) record the temporal and spatial shifts arising from the transition of light colours to dark ones.
The large format photograms of Colour in Perspective (2020) demonstrate just how much space is needed to render the transition from white to black, as recording the correlation of brightness, angle and distance required a sheet of photo paper this large. Additionally, the artist chose colour filter settings that, throughout the long transition, yield experiences that are unexpected to our customary colour perception.
The series No End to Colour (2020) employs the familiar form of the Mobius strip, a symbol of infinity, insofar as the photo paper, light-sensitive on one side only, records the projection formed on the inner side of the structure. The three-dimensional situation created by twirling the strip of photo paper into an infinite loop is transposed onto the two-dimensional plane, as if (literally) exposing the inside of “infinity”. However, the question regarding the infinite twist and twirl of colour and abstraction that starts at the moment of exposure, is still left open.
Special thanks to Andrea Mátyus and Imre Zalka for their professional help.
Ágnes Eperjesi (1964) graduated in 1989 at the freshly established Department of Photography at the Academy of Applied Arts (today MOME) and also acquired her master’s degree at the institution’s later department of Visual Communication that incorporated the photo department. She acquired her doctoral degree at the University of Fine Arts in 2010, her master’s diploma work was the triple exhibition series Colour Matters. She has been teaching since 2011 at the university’s Intermedia Department.
The acb Gallery has been collaborating with Eperjesi since 2019. The volume introducing her early photographic work (1986-1999) was published in the same year by acb ResearchLab.
The three exhibitions that comprise Colour Matters are titled There Will Always Be Fresh Loundry, Nothing Beyond Colours, Small Prayer. Cf.: Colour Matters, King St. Stephen Museum, Székesfehérvár, 2009.