'The anguish of Hungarian sentiment is raw in Kiraly’s art'
Arts Editor: Christopher George
David Kovats Gallery embodies the essence of contemporary East European art, and the latest exhibition from Hungarian artist Gabor Kiraly, gives a glimpse into the unsettling atmosphere of Hungary's culture that has existed for hundreds of year, and continues to be problematic.
It’s often through art that we get an insight into the underbelly of society, but Kiraly’s portrays a combination of cultures, identities and ideas. So at first It’s hard to grasp that the artist himself is originally from a small and sheltered village in the heart to Hungary, as the depiction of his own culture is heavily translated into a visual form akin to African tribal art.
Kiraly originally trained and worked as a teacher, but like all artists the calling to produce works became paramount, and eventually took control of his life. From his humble background in a small farming village, Kiraly moved forward to create a position within the global contemporary art world. He is drawn to unique combinations inspired by tribal art, African American art and the humble background and Hungarian heritage. This mix is as curious for the viewer as it is for the artist himself, who allows his subconscious to take control.
Kiraly is uncommitted in explaining why these themes are the basis of his works, or when these styles actually took hold of him creatively. Much of this artistry comes to him through his subconscious, and his paintings can often begin as one form and character, then change into another almost unrecognisable.
Working from his subconscious, Kiraly creates the hypnotic vision we are faced with. Unexplainable figures twisted and somewhat grotesque - beyond the facade of beauty, while relaying the emotions that seem troubled beneath the physical form. Although potentially disturbing at first gaze, these portraits become comforting as one eases into the mundanity represented in each character’s solo existence, yet is taut with the undercurrents of anguish. This banal existence is a representation of his own reality and observations from growing up in a secluded Hungarian village, with its culture, habits and rituals.
As with the artist’s unease of characters, these portraits represent the troubles and underlying anxiety within the Hungarian spirit. The agitation is passed down from generation to generation. Even the Hungarian national anthem is one of seemingly doom and depression. The anguish of Hungarian sentiment is raw in Kiraly’s art.
Kiraly often works on objects and materials found or sourced. Old canvas, wood, objects and items that take his creative and subconscious interest. These insignificant materials then becoming the vessels for the art and his analogy. A transferal of his historical unconscious feelings, sentiment and situations, onto objects that have their own historical journey, deepening the meaning and narrative of the paintings. How one is connected to either the objects, the art or the sentiment is personal. But for many, this is quite a moving and exploratory exercise.
Kiraly’s obscure connection with African art is a juxtaposition to his Hungarian background. His artistic direction is bound by a contrasting culture and at first it is difficult to decipher how Kiraly sees himself and other humans as one with no real separation. But why he wouldn’t be connected to African tribal art, or American African culture? We are all one of the same, and our journeys however culturally different, are one of emotional passages that we all share as the human race.
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