János SZIRTES: Midnight October 22, 2014 - November 22, 2014

One of the most versatile artists of Hungarian contemporary art, János Szirtes (1954 Budapest) is celebrating his 60th birthday this year. For this important anniversary, a grand jubilee exhibition is to be held at the Várfok Gallery and Várfok Project Room completing the exhibition, Pro/Contra, which was opened on September 27th. 2014 at m21 Gallery of the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter in Pécs, Hungary in a space of over 1,000 square metres.

The exhibition at the Várfok Gallery aims to focus on the painting of János Szirtes, presenting such emblematic moments of the oeuvre as the Big Painting (1985). This ‘free canvas’ carries the traces of the archaic motifs and decorative forms of the New Painting movement of the 80s. Furthermore, the more and more abstract, purified compositions from the second half of the decade will also be shown which are characterized by the intensification of philosophical content as well as the appearance of visual display of existential issues. Related to them are the series of works studying of the structure of space and the correlation of organic-inorganic worlds from the 90s and 2000s. These multi-layered compositions examine the space-constructive role of the pattern and its illusion-creating aspect.
Szirtes’ famous soot images cannot be omitted from the exhibition either. They are the strongest exemplars of the idea that painting is action and the unifying principle of painting with performance. The research of the nature of sensuality, compression of the action of performances in 2D and aesthetic self-representations can all be read from his artistic works. The latest examples of these researches on the body are the photo series, created in recent years, where the artworks are carried on by the body itself, capturing the process of action.
The title of the exhibition, Midnight, suggests Szirtes’ newest series exhibited at the Várfok Project Room and also refers to the summarizing moment of the oeuvre. The intermediate images presenting the dance of two naked bodies combine the technique of painting, photography and performance. All the studies of the artist about space, body, material and related genres serve to reveal their essential, mature forms. These works, radiating the highest form of the picturesque and the purest sensuality, are noble moments of the feast that is the culmination of an extraordinary artistic career going back more than three decades.
As recognition of his artistic merit, János Szirtes was awarded the Munkácsy Prize in 1990 and the Merit Cross of the Order of the Republic of Hungary in 2009 among many other awards. His works are housed in such major public collections as the Ludwig Museum in Aachen (Germany), the Swedish Upplands Kunstmuseum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, the Hungarian National Gallery, and the Janus Pannonius Museum in Pécs. He has presented his performances at numerous venues all around the world including, for example, in Japan in 2013 at the International Performance Festival NIPAF'13 where he also represented Hungary as one of the eight invited foreign artists.


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