Prolonged until 29 March: BLACK January 26, 2018 - March 24, 2018

The next show of the Várfok Gallery is a group exhibition, that has its main axis determined by the inquiry about the role of the colour black in contemporary Hungarian painting through selected works from the Gallery’s permanent artist circle.


Exhibiting artists: franyo AATOTH, Ákos CZIGÁNY, Françoise, GILOT, László GYŐRFFY, Levente HERMAN, Tamás JOVANOVICS, El KAZOVSKY, Károly KESERÜ, Mátyás MISETICS, László MULASICS, Anna NEMES, Endre ROZSDA, János SZIRTES, Péter UJHÁZI, Róbert VÁRADY.


The exhibition poses an exciting circle of questions through which we can talk about the re-emerging problem in cultural and art history of black, as a colour, as a present entity, as matter of a collective consciousness and as an aesthetical phenomenon filled with uniquely rich symbolism.


Since the origin of Mankind, black, as the most ancient colour - or according to the modern colour theory and its achromatic nature, not even a real colour - has been saturated with numerous negative and positive connotations, and bears meanings and associations forged through the years. It is the world’s Alpha, the original, light-absorbing darkness, but at the same time the fertile base, in that light and life can unfold itself. It expresses the demonic realm of the Evil, the pitch-black night, nightmares and fears, not even mentioning about the darkness of death, pain and grief. However, at the same time, it represents humbleness, simplicity, grace and elegance. Black is also a tool to expand universally the dimensions of space and time or, on the contrary, to express the complete lack of these qualities.

Since Malevic’s ‘Black Square’, the Rothko-chapel, Ad Reinhardt, Frank Stella or the lifework of Pierre Soulage, the power of black is unquestionable. In iconic pieces of art it has been used to express perfect reduction, getting back to basics and to remove every superfluous frill. For some it has become the symbol of a dimension’s endpoint and, at the opposite extreme,  the fundamental emblem of nothingness and non-existence. Beside transmitting individual and collective, metaphysical and existential ideas, it is connected with such decisive questions of the 20th century such as the justification of abstract tendencies, liberating and thinking about the very core and essence of art itself. Its importance lives on doubtlessly in contemporary art as well and, artist by artist, it plays a different role, somewhere in the conscience, and, by others, in more of an unconscious way. We are inviting You to a thought-provoking exhibition, where visitors can contemplate these questions amongst selected works of the Várfok Gallery’s artists.


Text about the black written by the artists:

Black has nothing to do with darkness, which is full of colours, and does not delay light. I know this because during the time before I was born, for all those millions of years, I could only gaze at blackness. Since then, we haven't met, though it isn't far, not far, it's not distant. What will happen later, one cannot see. -  CZIGÁNY Ákos

Every form in Nature that is physically tangible, has its own physiological character. Shadow is only the lack of light, it does not exist on its own. It is light that creates shadow, therefore every phenomenon that can be observed by the eye in a physical way has its own shadow. It can be seen in a chromatic and achromatic system, outlined by the light. - HERMAN Levente

Black absorbs light, absorbs surfaces and absorbs meaningful details. Only a large unbreakable stain remains, which attracts attention along with its closeness. It destroys the tiny constructions of a face, for example, but also adds a lot of other feelings, ideas and emotions. I let it regress, I let it spread. I am watching it and I feel lighter. - NEMES Anna

A very BLUE SKY and a rich and blooming cherry-tree is awaiting me. The Székesfehérvár¬ to Pákozd bus, the garden of János Vass. Everything is good ! only ! I’ve forgotten the BLUE paint, therefore I won’t have SKY-BLUE!
A call home: Mari Ecsedi is not bringing the blue paint for me…
There is no beautiful, sublime, pictorial reality without BLUE, I said… but I suddenly see that the colour BLACK is a good material for a base, fits for the flower-world. The painting is even more spacious like this. I can still see it like that.
So this is how I got an impressionist painting.  - UJHÁZI Péter

Fekete Egyensúly| Black Balance

White balance is one of the most important photographical adjustment of films and videos, that sets the temperature of the records. The balance of the colour black has a complete different meaning. It cannot replace the optical baseline of white surfaces. However, it is important for every work.
Black is the colour of dark deepness, the colour of being-in-shadow.
We must remember that in painting academies it has been taught for centuries, that black paint should not be used when mixing different colours and darkening them. It is because black paint used to made of soot, and soot makes bright pigments filthy and dirty.
To darken, and create depth, shades of green umber and dark, deep burgundy paint can be used. Many artists still seek the paint that is able to produce a smooth, thick, black surface. My graphical and pictorial compositions are organised layer by layer, from the deeper layer of two dimensions to the way gradually outward. For me, in case of visual depiction, black represents the very last moment, the closing motif. I use Asian calligraphic ink, or black acrylic cover. However, it has also been the case that I applied the black closing surface of soot-black rabbit fur. These black motifs determine the composition of the paintings, draw the layers beneath them to the depths, give energy to the system which is meant to be living. All in all, the former great masters highlight is replaced by this black.
I reached the so-called “bodypainting” many times during my imaging work. This was born from the organic relation of my action/performance work and painting. I splash my optically recorded portrait with black ink paint. This way the series is able to include the passing of time in the process, and so my own presence disappears to the black depths  through the gesture movements.

VÁRADY Róbert:
A fekete színről | About Colour Black

I would leave out the most well-known symbolical and metaphorical interpretations related to the colour black, and instead add only a few subjective, personal opinions.
Hermeneutical relativity can be mentioned as connected to black as well, according to which there is no one and only valid or true definition or interpretation. Black is a heavy, gloomy, absorbing colour, constricting shapes, shrinking forms. Opaque and impenetrable depth, symbol of mystery, and mystic. This is also the exact reason for the “night-cult” of Romanticism. It has been bound together with a lot of negative connotations, just as Rimbaud associates to “velvety jacket of brilliant flies, Which buzz around cruel smells” in his “Vowels”, the same, stifling atmosphere appears in the “Black Land” of Babits, where every imaginable, existing organism is covered and buried by blackness. As parallels in fine art, Hartung’s or Soulages’ upsetting, shocking black gestures can be mentioned.
On the contrary, black can represent dignity and elegance; it is enough if we think about the garments of Spanish aristocracy in the age of Velázquez.
The most surprising contrast is represented by the Rothko-chapel in Houston, where every painting is black, yet the uniquely sensitive, ethereal, and floating transcendency of the dark surfaces gives an unparalleled majesty.

The colour black (or not a colour, but in that case how should we name it?) is like a sea of material that can be found in the field of science, just as it can culturally, or artistically. Obviously I don’t want to add anything to the discourse about the meaning of black, because it has a history as old as mankind. It has been always strongly „implicit in the picture” that is for sure. However, in my paintings not at all, or not so much. When black appeared, it was always in a symbolic interpretation and, later on, more in the sense of aesthetic form. The latter don’t just levitate in themselves, of course, but refers to psychological, anthropological, and ideological meanings, that are huge subject areas. To try to summarise how I use black: on the one hand, as a pulling-back and balance-keeping power, a contra-material against the many colours, to hold me back from flying away, both within a picture and in all my work. On the other hand, the constant Malevich-interpretation stands in the background, it is unavoidable: the omnipotent presence, that we must never forget about… - KESERÜ Károly

Black is the basis of painting. The zero point compared with the colours that can tell us who and what they are.
For me, the pictorial history of the colour black starts with Caravaggio and continues with Rembrandt. After a long pause, perhaps because in the Age of Enlightenment black was regarded as too dim, cloudy or too reminiscent of the Medieval Age, Romanticism (meaning Goya and Caspar David Friedrich) slightly brought it back but Impressionism and Fauvism banished it again for a while. In the 20th century black returns with the early paintings of Kandinsky followed by the ’Black Square’ of Malevich, which still pricks the metaphysical-minded pictorial curiosity.
I consider Ad Reinhardt the most important „black-painter” of the century, even if his black-interpretation is distant from my own. According to him, black symbolises total absence and the very end-point of abstraction. In my mind it is slightly banal, that the colour black would mean nothingness or the end. For me, black is not the end, but the very beginning, the excitement, the entrance of the cave. Black, exactly because it is the lack of light, lets other colours shine much more brightly than white, which is only the sum of colours or lights. On a white background, even pink appears dirty and faded, while, on a black base, a dull brownish grey behaves like candlelight in the dark. Black in itself can be fearful (horror vacui). However, it is fairly devoted and receptive a best friend of colour and the Great Mother of painting. If our eyes could light, and there was no artificial lighting necessary in galleries and museums, I believe not a “White Cube”, but a “Black Cube” would be the ideal context for painting. It would be like a cinema, only with no chairs in it, because one must move to view a painting, since it is not only seen by the eyes, but it must be felt by the body as well (changing an angle, or a point of view, or distance from the picture). Another thing crossed my mind about black: when the eyes are closed, we see black, but never a homogeneous black as it is oscillating. Black is actually very colourful. - JOVANOVICS Tamás

 According to Odilon Redon, "One must respect black, nothing prostitutes it. It does not please the eye and it awakens no sensuality. It is the agent of the mind far more than the most beautiful colour to the palette or the prism.” The forewarning of the Night arrived in the nick of time to correct the falsehood of the long lasting impressionist picnic which says that black is not even a colour: the followers of Monet with their easels spent too much time under the betraying ozone layer while the rays of Positivism had been burning holes into their eye sockets. Bataille knew that, "Human eyes tolerate neither sun, coitus, cadavers, nor obscurity": ever since the Solar Anus has been scorching the ideal landscape more and more in a delirious trance of parody and flooding the territory of painting with the avant-garde’s oncogenic mutations. We should respect black because there will be nothing else in the end. Actually, "the blackness of the paint is more than a colour, but also more than material extension or material structure. Since it is a dense, strong and heavy black paint […], the chiasmatic clotting of materiality" (Márk Horváth). The velvety lightless and inorganic dollop is everywhere, it only needs to find the right place to break out from geological Hell: Evil Gaia regularly sends her inscrutable, gluey core to the surface to blanket her offsprings – it is enough to sit around the fondue bowl that she offered and plunge our extremities into the pitch-dark lava, as a most generous gestural painting, that we could write to the sky with our mortified stumps, ’IN ROT WE TRUST’. After all, Green Peace is the prismic refraction of Black Death which is as democratic as the toxic Disneyland of the art industry. Over the last year, the watchful enterprise of has started to distribute canvases with black primer colour in Hungary at first but, hopefully, across the entire planet, adjusting its global marketing to the opening of the the Sixth Seal. Hobby art is dead and, therefore everybody can cultivate it: the black canvas is the industrially determined destiny which we do not even have to touch if we want to give ourselves a lifelike self-portrait as a gift. Every apartment-sized coffin includes a state-supported monochrome mummy portrait, the matte mirror image of Malevics, Serra and Kapoor’s common stepchild. We can even recognise ourselves in it under the sun which has become as black as a sackcloth of hair, waist-deep in the anthropocene sediment, with our carbon fibre device in hand, listening to Sunn O))) rearranging our remaining organs with its monumental sound sculpture to alert one with an infinite drone as a ringtone: we have chosen ourselves a Death Star. - GYŐRFFY László


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