Van Zoetendaal Gallery, Amsterdam, 23.10 - 28.11. 2004
The exhibition at Van Zoetendaal Gallery in Amsterdam brings together works by Hungarian artists Gábor Kerekes and Ágnes Eperjesi. An unexpected, though fascinating combination of two completely different artistic positions. Notions of perception and the boundaries between abstraction and figuration are explored by both artists throughout the exhibition.
The work of Gábor Kerekes refers to photographic research and experiments in the field of astronomy, biology and medical science of the 19th and early 20th century. Like the scientists of the 19th century, Kerekes works in an intuitive way. Kerekes’s photographs of physical phenomena could have come from famous publications like A Photographic Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way (1927) or from La Carte du Ciel (1887-1964). His photographs of (natural) objects bring to mind daguerreotypes, like the Arrangements of Fossil Shells (1837-39), as well as Henry Fox Talbot’s early "photogenic drawings" (1839-41), which have botany and palaeontology as their subject. Due to the precision of the photographic images, their exact registration of details and complex structures of scientific, aesthetic and abstract - e.g., coral (L.Rousseau, 1855) or crystal (W.A. Bentley, 1911 / A. Renger Patzsch, 1930) - motifs tended to coincide in the 19th and early 20th century. Kerekes shows the abstraction of spirals, lines and patterns without providing the image with any (scientific) information. Above all, the importance lies within the image itself as an autonomous picture. In this respect, his photographs of the human body are among the most interesting. Kerekes not only shows outward characteristics, like the photo of a splotchy rash entitled Mom’s Legs, but he also examines the inside of the human body. He finds portents in the most ordinary things. Wisps of hair, e.g., appear as fragile sculptures in a dramatized landscape where light struggles with darkness.
Kerekes searches for orientation points that still indicate the former relation between science and art, between intuition and rational logic. He finds the most authentic forms of expression for this artistic position in historical photographic techniques. Therefore, he uses a variety of different materials and techniques, like salted paper, kallitype, silver bromide paper, albumen and silver chloride paper, among others.Figurative and abstract imagery is combined in the broad variety of themes, interpretations and techniques visible in Kerekes’s photographs.
Ágnes Eperjesi shows her Family Album. The work is based on the visualised tension between the entities of the personal and the collective, the individual and the common. She uses banal mass-produced imagery, investing it with a personal message. Eperjesi tells her own family's story through the pictograms printed on all kinds of packaging material, like wrapping papers, nylon bags and candy cellophane. She recycles the small images destined for the wastebin, images normally discarded without getting the slightest attention. Her work has consistently investigated the terrain of images from the mass media, and can be regarded as sensitive commentaries on the pleasures of consumerism. Parallels with Pop Art are visible in the depiction of everyday subject matter and the exploration of questions of authenticity, reproduction, imitation and authorship.
Eperjesi recasts the images, infusing them with her own stories. She gives them a new aesthetic quality, changes their meaning and significance. "If you remove images from their original context, their genuine meaning is hopelessly lost. Drawings turned into autonomous pictures and arranged into series assume new meaning and take on a new existence in the context and associations I assign them", she says. The pictograms as well as the schematic pictures, drawing instructions and simple photos on the transparent packing materials are used as negatives during the photographic procedure. In the blown-up photographs, she reveals their rich texture. Sometimes the pixel-dots blur together into abstract patterns. Alongside the photographs hanging on the wall, the Family Album is shown as a limited-edition handmade photo album.
The exhibition accompanies Hongarije aan zee - Hungarian Cultural Festival in the Netherlands. A booklet with a selection of works by Ágnes Eperjesi and Gábor Kerekes has been published by Van Zoetendaal.
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