Krisztina Üveges: _for the present

_ a jelenért / _ for the present


The exhibition room houses Ágnes Kontra’s place-specific installation. The title draws attention to the fact that the work of art is exhibited in an unusual way. The space surrounding the work is also emphasized, and even becomes a part of it, thus forming an inseparable unity. This unity creates the environment, into which the viewer enters. Then, with the active attention of the viewer, the act of interpretation begins.

Installation art came into being in the early 20th century, amongst the Dadaists and surrealists. Instead of the traditional understanding of visual art and exhibition, they interpreted the environment surrounding the work as its three-dimensional extension, also involving the viewer. Previous composition and exhibition conventions had been organised in such a way, that the viewer would look specifically towards the horizon of the image, which would have the intended effect only from a certain distance. This situation focused on the viewer, but kept the distance. The new paradigm, however, sought for decentralization. It let the viewer closer, in order to let itself be explored according to the viewer’s own needs, with respect to the personal psychological background or alternative perceptions. The most important achievement of this paradigm shift was that the definitive reception was replaced by an ambiguous context, which gives way to numerous possible unique experiences.

Ágnes Kontra’s work, which is a stage of a long-running artistic research, engages the viewer in this special experience. Choosing the rather small Herman Room for the exhibition implies that the artist wanted to create the environment of focused attention. After entering the space behind the deflectors, the viewer is completely enclosed by the curved walls that exclude all the distractive influences. The space itself contains a painting as the focus point. This is the practice of immersion, when, for the mind, the image acts as the object of meditation. The painting is a complex work, incorporating texture, spatial concepts, colours, light, shapes, and movement, applied thoroughly, as multiple layers. This meditative process can also be embraced by the viewer, who manages to perceive the subtle elements, opening a perceptive space for the emergence of intuitions and experiences through colours and shades.

According to Wassily Kandinsky, “the artist follows a trajectory similar to nature’s, which began from protoplasm and cells, but later reached more and more complex systems”. Ágnes Kontra’s earlier works also originate in the observation of nature. When her art moved away from depicting the landscape, vegetation and atmosphere, she started to use more modest and discrete means to share her experiences, which originate from an internal image. Once this internal image grows strong enough, then begins the process of painting. Previously applied shades of orange glow from beneath the cool blue surface. The intense warmth of orange shines through the colder blues and whites, similarly to how life is pulsating through the strictness of rationality. The subtle colour modulation encloses two circular shapes. The circle is one of the most fundamental symbols of humanity, representing the infinite, perfection and eternity. The circles on the painting are moving, either away from, or towards each other. Their intersection forms an ellipse, which, as a representation of the planetary orbit, became the symbol of the universe. The remaining sectors are crescent-shaped: the metaphor of constant change.

The colours and symbols of the painting evoke thoughts, but these should be let go. The goal is to reach beyond lingual explanations, all the way to intuitive understanding, which is capable of fundamentally changing our perception of the world and ourselves.

Krisztina Üveges