Erik Mátrai: xyz


Erik Mátrai’s latest work entitled xyz is a full-room light installation that is the artist’s fourth solo exhibition organised at acb Gallery. The architecture created in these light installations – constructed from beams of light rendered “material” by fog – challenges the viewer’s perception, while also seeking to connect sensuous experience with spiritual/meditative mental states through the use of complex and universal symbols. xyz is based on such earlier works as Spot Gate from 2011 (along with later installations that used it as their point of departure: Spectrum Wall, constructed from the colours of the spectrum, 2018, and Spectrum Corridor, 2019), or Porticus, an installation using the proportions and traditions of sacred architecture, first realised at the acb Gallery in 2012. Its most immediate antecedent, however, was the installation entitled Moving Wall, presented in 2019 at Bazis Contemporary in Kolozsvár/Cluj-Napoca, and then, in 2020, at the MMM exhibition held in aqb Budapest. As the next step in this journey, Mátrai’s new installation continues and expands an exploration of the problematic of space and spatial perception, while, in borrowing its title from the three-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system, it refers back to the mathematical modelling of spatial relations. The “room-scanning”, moving planes of light – effects created by the presence of fog  – generate a new experience of space without the viewer ever having to actually change position. While the artist problematises the processes that unfold in – and are defined by the parameters and conditions of – space, he adds a new dimension of meaning to space as a medium of meditation, while also opening new horizons to the content of movement in his works.
Erik Mátrai (1977) graduated from the Painting Program of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts in 2004, with a degree project in video installation. As a multimedia artist, he has been active in the genres of video art, photography and installation ever since. While, in recent years, his name has been particularly associated with light art, lumino kinetic art and large-scale installation art, a painterly perspective has remained prominent in his works, realised through various visual art mediums. This is apparent not only in his attention to problems of colour theory and to the relationship between colour and abstraction, but also in his exploration of questions pertaining to the fundamental peculiarities of representative and spatial art, and his reflections on the tradition of art history-iconography. Mátrai’s works centre on the human experience, as well as on the problematics of not only an unfolding – and establishable – relationship between the human and the transcendent, but also the connections between perception and visual representation.