Bartók 32 Galéria

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"A blank map is a map that lacks specific information. Of course, all maps are blank if one studies them for information they do not contain, albeit their system of projection would allow for that missing piece of information. The title, then, refers to the openness of the picture; not its entirety but continuability. A (blank) map is a frame, the fiction of permanence which makes an attempt to grasp (or intends to do so) the group of permanence and changeability"

István Bodóczky

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"For many years now Bodóczky has been experimenting with possibilities of space-occupation well beyond the systems of illusionistic effects in painting. He has now established a new genre in art by placing surface-related works into space.

His suspended works of art, floating some 16 inches from the floor, defined the manner of beholding these works. Visitors could walk round and look at the composition of plane elements from above.

Surfaces painted with now vivid, now reticent colours alternate with collage-like patches — newspaper cuttings, and photographs.

The merging of plausible motifs and abstract gestures in Bodóczky’s art does not require explanation, and the exhibition catalogue, a booklet containing a handful of thoughts and quotations by the artist (a collage in itself), is an excellent guide to the show. Page ten, for instance, has the following sentence: >Playing is a chance 'to correct fate'- a chance to make decisions. Namely, what is shared in all games is precisely their voluntary character; one is prepared to follow certain rules, to fit into a system one created ore chose oneself.<"

Tibor Wehner

bodoczky.JPG (34334 bytes) Sensual and intellectual “elements” in István Bodóczky’s installation are — unusually enough — correlated and equally balanced.
After the first impression (hovering quality, lightness, vagueness, painterliness), due to the use of materials and the way of installation, one proceeds to a more profound immersion in the details; with these works, however, the “conceptual web” formed by thematic elements is inseparable from the initial experience.

One may regard the installation as a peculiar arrangement of strangely shaped works (collages, paintings) where the installation impedes interpretation — there is no specified angle of looking, the elements are only partially visible, and the composition, the entire group of pictures, is impossible to view as a whole. Primarily, because looking at the individual elements requires a fundamentally different posture and viewpoint than gazing at the whole installation; the former calls for a downward, stooping and inward position, while the latter a straight posture. However, we are talking about an installation whose individual elements have a value on their own as well.
The pictures here especially can only be seen one by one; grasping only one sliver of time “at a time”; the picture behind remains an image in one’s memory (for even if one turns one can only see condensed colour-patches), and the picture that ensues remains a guess. The way Bodóczky is encompassing the time-dimension, by the use of still pictures also calls attention to the limits of cognition.

Taking a bird’s eye view gives the impression that, like continents, the individual elements used to touch but grew distant due to many ruptures. However, the spaces between the elements are not necessarily lacunae or voids; they may be regarded as intermissions of contemplation, like line spaces or margins in a book.

Over 50, postcard-sized figural motifs, picture-elements, or pictures are imbedded into a composition of xviii larger, fundamentally abstract elements installed within a 15 x 3 metre area. These collage-elements are positioned sporadically, seemingly at random; some of them have no pictures, while others have several. The order, the harmony is established by Bodóczky’s style on the one hand, and on the other, by the fact that the various pictures are woven into a web of familiar motifs. Created with the intention of establishing order, these motifs are plans, sketches, geometrical formations and irregular, vivid, or mysterious scribbles.

Bodóczky’s Blank Map has three cardinal points: the first, the last and the central element.

The last element of the composition begins with a near semi-circular, densely black painting. Three narrow picture-fractions come to view on the edge: the Hell scene from the Last Judgement mosaic at Torcello with worms gnawing away among skulls, collections of shells, and footprints in mud. Coming from nothing, various aspects of death are portrayed: fossilisation, the solid frame/remains of living matter; mud which bears the imprint of the living, refers to immersion in dead matter, and also to matter capable of renewal. The section nearer to the middle of the installation the transition is more straightforward: within a purple base there are yellow patches, with uneven edges, in a regular arrangement. Regularity links them up with immobility, yet it is colourful and lively.

The opposite end of the composition is closed (or opened?) by an element comprising a black and white disc. These two final points designate the axis along which, depending on the distance from it, colourful, busy “life” emerges, and onto which “warnings” and “opportunities” are threaded. Element xiv features Barbara Kruger’s picture “Memory is your image of perfection”; no.viii presents a medieval woodcut of a king playing a game of chess with the Reaper; no.ii, in a painting of Lucas Cranach, shows people waiting for rebirth from the water of life.

The centre of the installation (no.ix) is a real map, the rational tool of orientation. Its middle, however, is concealed by an element of pantomime, a game which is also founded on rational thought. Its regular element slices a black hole out of the map, thus eliminating the only secure bearing.

Disintegration, nihility, emptiness as tiny freckles integrate into a vast, cheerful, colourful hovering.

The pictures of the immense web of the installation can be divided into three main groups:

1) documentary photographs and newspaper cuttings. Some of them are images from nature which are, for some reason or another, “extremities”: an erupting volcano (vi), footprints in mud (i & x), a whale tossed ashore (v), a hairy fish (xvi), and a monkey in a cage (vi). Man appears in a great many roles and situations: a woman diving into water (viii), kissing lovers (xiii), someone advertising coffee (x), a sexy woman on the phone (v), a man raising his hat (iii), and Kennedy’s assassination (vi). Objects, however, are represented by instruments of signalling and of transport: the means or imprints of communication.

These include a typewriter (iv), the instrument panel of an aeroplane (xiii), a close-up of it (xiv), as well as a search warrant (xiv) and a call girl’s telephone number (x).

2) Earlier works of István Bodóczky, e.g.: "Places where I used to live" or "Chinese pancake". It is difficult to dissociate inserted earlier works from copies, the use of motifs (pantomime) or from simple stylistic identity (scribbles, plans, illegible text fragments or the “Dinners”).

3. The above quoted works of art embrace the continents (Utamaro (x), Egyptian relief (iv), Barbara Kruger (xiv), Joseph Beuys (iv & xiii)) and the periods from prehistoric times to our days.“Giant from the air”, which appears like a mystical, natural formation, not only crops up in a photograph (xvi); but also in other pictures where Bodóczky has repeated various details of the original in water-colour & pastel. The topics of the photographs appear in these works, different in style, genre and concept. The footprints “continue” in a Japanese ink painting (xiv). Women appear in various roles: as a “piece of furniture” in Matisse’s Red Salon, and as the breast feeding mother in the woodcut portraying Kintoki ; as well as men: heroes (Caravaggio: David and Goliath) and sages (Giorgione: The Three Philosophers). The documents of contemporary Hungarian art (an invitation to Folyamat (Process) Gallery, Gábor Tóth’s “Artists go home” and Pál Gerber’s “Resurrection”) are compressed into a single picture (xiii).

In Bodóczky’s installation almost every aspect of reality appears, in its very own richness and unpredictability.

The only real trait these pictures have in common is that they are attempts to portray a sliver of reality. They lead us to believe that possessing more and more of these details helps us in grasping wholeness. However, we know that even if we collect every single picture in the world, we could never grasp reality. By assembling so many pictures Bodóczky seems to have made an attempt to give a rendering of wholeness while — through the iconographically concealed structural division of his pictures, the hovering, impenetrable, fragmented installation which radiates uncertainty — what he is merely demonstrating is that the maximum in doing so is a Blank Map.

Erzsébet Tatai

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