Gábor Roskó: The Secret Life of the Olm
September 18 - October 30, 2020
On the occasion of his solo exhibitions realised in the past decades, Gábor Roskó has already shown many of his faces to the audience of acb Gallery. His newest works – in contrast to his previous show in 2015 – mark a return to the artist’s trademark narrative, figurative painting. All part of a fairy-tale-like story construction steeped in the artist’s private mythology, numerous human figures appear in these new works.
The leitmotif of Roskó’s newest cycle is a seemingly unreal, but still real being: the Olm. The mysterious blind cave salamander is capable of living an extraordinary long life of even 100 years thanks to its successful adaptation to the darkness of the caves, and to the fact that it can stay motionless for years. The most striking characteristic of this creature is the pink branchia that grows outside its body:that is the only coloured organ of the otherwise completely depigmented animal. In his paintings, Roskó puts an even bigger emphasis on the branchy organ so that it almost becomes an antler, a universal allegory of sensitivity and vulnerability. The quasi-narrative bound together by the olms also features the archetype of a tyrant, a mourning nude of King David and the figure of Spinoza fleeing through the mountains in a dreamlike scene. Roskó is also reflecting on the Jewish family history of the philosopher, who most probably hasn’t been portrayed in his lifetime.
In his newest solo exhibition as in his previous one in 2019 in Óbudai Társaskör, Gábor Roskó reconfigures such classical genres as the altar triptych. On the Spinoza triptych painted on fibreboard, the figure of the olm appears to be independent from the whole composition as a kind of vintage trade-sign, which is also an inspiration for the artist. On other paintings the figure of the olm becomes almost alien-like because of the multiplication effect. Gábor Roskó also sets a new type of dark, gloomy tone for his paintings, which is especially noticeable in the one depicting a hospital scene.
Gábor Roskó (1958) graduated at the printmaking department of the Hungarian College of Arts. His artistic career started in the beginning of the 1980s. Beside his practice as a grahic and ceramic artist, he quickly made a mark in the local art scene with his unique painting style. Irony and allegory both play a unique role in his works. Ancient fables, elements of the Jewsih tradition as well as Middle and Far Eastern cultures can be found among Roskó’s subjectively selected historical and visual references, giving an enigmatic and timeless atmosphere to his works. Roskó’s latest retrospective was held in 2013 in MODEM, Debrecen. Beside acb Gallery, Budapest, his solo shows were presented by the Institute of Contemporary Art in Dunaújváros, and the St. Stephen King Museum in Székesfehérvár. His works were featured in group exhibitions hosted by prestigious institutions such as the New Museum New York, the Ludwig Museum, Budapest and the Hungarian National Gallery.