franyo aatoth & Ervin Patkai: Gardens and Cathedrals February 28, 2012 - March 08, 2012

In March, Várfok Gallery will present all at once the works of two artists within the confines of the exhibition Gardens and Cathedrals. Although the title might seem lyrical, the show is founded on exceptionally strong structural elements: on the one hand, we find on the field of painting the compositional and contextual unities of franyo aatoth (Nyíregyháza | H, 1954), on the other hand, on the field of scuplture, the ’edifices’ of Ervin Patkai (Békéscsaba | H, 1937 – Paris | F, 1985).

The realization of this present exhibition is due to the fusion of several elements in one ensemble: one of the outstanding á propos of the show is that Patkai would have celebrated his 75th birthday this April. But there is an even more important cause regarding the show which is the connection between the two artists. Patkai, who settled down in Paris in 1957 became quite well-known in France already in the 70s, firstly thanks to his statues to be found on the public spaces of several French towns. franyo aatoth, then still a student at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts of Paris, got the opportunity to work on the ’building sites’ of some of Patkai’s huge sized, cast concrete sculptures. He worked together with Patkai from 1978 until the death of the sculptor in 1985, moreover, they became close friends. Although Patkai’s name is mentioned in every important sculptural and urbanistic recapitulative as an important actor of the field, the Budapest exhibition will ’present’ an artist whose works were only seen by the Hungarian public in rare cases (e.g. last time in 2006 at the Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest). Patkai was also one of the founding members of the Hungarian periodical published in Paris, Magyar Műhely.

During his latest period, the theme of nature became even more emphatic in franyo aatoth’s pictures. Slowly leaving the Parisian whirl behind, the painter became a ’captive’ of Thai jungles, where he actually built an atelier – there are inevitable signs referring to this environment on some of the presented works.
In aatoth’s gardens, one will encounter the different performers of our society, embeded in sometimes surprising and unexpected or comic situations, sometimes in harsh, plastic stories. aatoth’s inimitable force lies in his capacity of making visible at the same time realistic and surrealistic scenes by combining distorted situations and trivial notions through a new approach. These ’scenes’ are usually set in a well-known atmosphere: the international public became acquainted with aatoth’s specific red and rugged, thick brush-work a long time ago. Yet aatoth sometimes converts to purple, to black or to light green, disclocating the spectator by this twist – if indeed it’s still possible since our grey cells are already dazzled by the web of connotations of the pictures. aatoth’s paintings can be small or huge, his ’comic-strip’-like rectangles can be considered as a kind of big ’play-ground’ – however, this playfulness can quickly turn out to be mordant irony…

 The exhibition at Várfok Gallery will present all together ten of Ervin Patkai’s edifices of the series Cathedrals created at the end of the 1960s. The statuettes made of bronze are the prefigurations of their companions (of an immensely bigger scale) placed in public spaces – however, these unique bronzes still have a monumental impact independently of their real proportions.
After settling down in Paris and following different studies started in Budapest and continued in the French capital, Ervin Patkai becomes  the student of Henri-Georges Adam at the Parisian art academy. In 1961, Patkai wins the prize for team work at the Biennale de Paris created by André Malraux. The period called ’Cubist’ in Patkai’s œuvre casts the artist’s serious affection for architectural structures. At the same time, Patkai is more and more intrigued by inner structures. It’s important to know as for the series Cathedrals, that at that time, the aim of his program was to replace the abstraction of contemporary aesthetics – which he found physically speaking too determinative – by a more spiritual abstraction. The cathedrals made around 1967-68 are characterized by a severe balance: the structures ’swell’ while making possible and visible numerous inner perspectives due to their general plastic adjustment. The cathedrals then become all at once compact and airy – saturation and emptiness meet within them. Through his experiments made with salt and sand moulds, paraffine, polyester, polystyrene and other materials, Patkai never stopped researching and for that always seriously considered different social factors.

The common exhibition presenting Ervin Patkai’s bronzes and franyo aatoth’s newest works will open on March 8th: it becomes then possible to walk on plumbless paths while forms and colours dazzle in front of our eyes and take us even further on the road of self-cognition.

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