Speaks for Itself

The Annual Exhibition of the Studio of Young Artists’ Association

Blog of the Exhibition: http://magaertbeszel.blogspot.com/

Location: Hungarian National Gallery

Opening: 15th July 2011

Opening speech: Ferenc Csák, director of the Hungarian National Gallery and Zsolt Petrányi, curator

On view: 4th September 2011

Being its curator, I interpreted the task of introducing the artistic activity of this dynamically developing organization and its current members to the wider public as a separate project within the framework of the annual exhibition. The pivotal challenge during the preparations was to build an exhibition that inspires active and substantial involvement of the artists while doing justice to the works of art as well.

It is a fact that the generation under 40 has a special place in the artistic scene. Artists belonging to this particular age group are still in the first decade of their careers. Their creative concepts, as well as the nature of their artistic activity and engagement are still under formation while already foreshadowing the future direction of their artistic development. However loosely interconnected, their strongly individual ideas constitute the core of what art historians will undoubtedly regard in the light of their future careers as the start of a distinctive era in local art history.

It was important to get rid of our preconceptions and historical biases that would urge us to form clear-cut opinions on artistic attitudes and allow room for the art to unravel and shape the concept around which the exhibition ultimately organized itself.

Artistic agendas hidden in the paintings, videos and installations may be interpreted as statements of intention from the part of these relatively young artists to get involved in the local and international scene as a response to current events and phenomena, but also as showcases of defining circumstances and sources of inspiration communicated in the language of contemporary art. The difference between the two approaches is that the latter is not trying to interpret the works of art according to an existing discourse, but rather highlights specific aspects of interpretation based on these particular works.

This is how we decided to persuade artists to actually put their philosophy on paper. As part of the entry requirements, artists were asked to answer three simple questions that were meant to help them take a position on their own role in the contemporary artistic scene as well as encouraged to talk about issues of artistic representation that they find most intriguing. What we hoped for was getting new perspectives on their art by listening to their personal reflections on artistic roles.

Based on underlying concepts, the answers were sorted in several larger groups, the number of which was ultimately narrowed down to three due to the limitations of available exhibition space in the Hungarian National Gallery. Three distinctive but interrelated approaches to artistic roles are clearly visible behind the answers that were also employed as organizing principles of the exhibition. These approaches were reflected in the three titles given to these groups of ideas: “The Medium is Irrelevant, the Message is Imperative”; “Daily Routine – Man is Frail”; “Experimental Egoism”.

“The Medium is Irrelevant, the Message is Imperative”

Contemporary art is caught up in the dilemma that the choice of the medium of expression such as painting, installation, visual techniques etc has its own intrinsic significance. Modern or ancient, all media have their own history that must be considered in the moment of choosing the materials and setting the frame of reference.

In this section, we can meet artists who give a lot of attention to the issue of available media. The choice of materials and the way they convey a message is essential to the definition of contemporary art. Works of art in this section are attempting to reinterpret the origins and possible directions of art, albeit often employing traditional techniques. To sum it up, this section collects artworks ranging from paintings to objects in case of which the way they are created, what they represent and what they have to say about the material they are made of are crucial to understanding its message.

“Daily Routine – Man is Frail”

In this section, we present artists whose work is dominated by reflections upon social and political issues. By choosing a critical or descriptive approach to current events, they represent a distinctive contemporary artistic attitude.

Processing everyday issues in an artistic language expresses the urge to reach out to the public and make them realize how the artist is not at all that different from anybody else. The only difference is that being involved in art entails knowledge of idiosyncratic techniques that help process and display the phenomena we experience as stress or conflicts in a different light. Unlike the press, the artist interprets and presents events from a particular point of view and with a keen eye for detail, helping us understand the spectrum of political standpoints, the consequences of having such a system and the responsibility that our political choices entail.

“Experimental Egoism”

The tendency to seek out new ways of spiritual and psychological self-definition is getting stronger and stronger in contemporary art. Throughout history, the position of the artist in society was always crucial to determining the goals and methods of artistic creation, but in times when a certain spiritual tendency or style dominated and determined culture, it also heavily influenced art and overshadowed the importance of self-expression.

The eventful debut of the 21st century promises radical changes that will once again highlight the basic questions around the role of the artist in society. Works in this section make a case for a deeply personal understanding of artistic creation. Through delicate finish and unique choice of solutions, artists succeed in creating works of art that evoke a warm sense of familiarity while professedly concentrating on the inner mindscape and attitude towards life of the artist rather than anything else. The esthetic quality of these works, the sophisticated ways they convey messages about beauty are of utmost importance, pointing it out that emotion and thought is not always easy to clearly grasp or express.

These three categories represent deeply different aspects of artistic creation, nevertheless they converge around the same kind of attitude. It is clear that this generation is well informed about the most recent trends and events in the international art scene; has a clear conception of the larger frameworks of form and content in which works of art can be created; as well as professes that adherence to international and European values can be a key factor in further development of contemporary Hungarian art. This attitude can be crucial to the international emergence of Hungarian art, as proven by the reception of these artists in exhibitions abroad.

Having said all this, the annual exhibition of the SYAA is entitled “Speaks for Itself” for several reasons. Firstly, it suggests that these works of art contain obvious values through high quality and variety of content. Secondly, it reveals the unfortunate reality that the association and the artists must frequently change strategies and adapt to new situations if they want their interests to prevail. Because the name of the game is survival for the SYAA, this exhibition has a particular importance as a display of self-assertion of a whole generation.

Zsolt Petrányi, curator of the exhibition

Exhibitioning artists:

Ádám Albert, Balázs Antal, Zsolt Asztalos, József Tamás Balázs, Róbert Batykó, Borsos Lőrinc, Igor & Ivan Buharov, Kim Corbisier, Ninetta Czank, Márta Czene, Sári Ember, Krisztina Erdei, Zsófia Fáskerti, Judit Fischer, Andreas Fogarasi, Gruppo Tökmag, László Hatházi, Dániel Horváth, Tibor iski Kocsis, Tamás Kaszás, Gábor Kerekes, András Király, Gábor Király, Ádám Kokesch, Rita Koralevics, Laci & Balázs, Anikó Loránt, Henrik Martin, Miklós Mécs, Hajnal Miklós, Judit Navratil, Tímea Anita Oravecz, György Orbán, Péter Puklus, Szabolcs Ráskai, Ákos Siegmund, Société Réaliste, Eszter Szabó, Éva Eszter Szabó, Klára Petra Szabó, Péter Szabó, SZAF, Zsófia Szemző, Gábor Csongor Szigeti, Zsolt Tibor, Kata Tranker, Júlia Vécsei