As a member of the jury, and/or who gives the opening speech of the Grotesque for years, held at Kaposvár, I would like to emphasize the actuality and solemnity of said competition, and I find it important to underline that the grotesque, opposed to grandiosity, is situated between the ugly and the comical amongst the aesthetic qualities, and that there's nothing funny in it. It's a little alarming, like the "trades of entertainment" of the courts of the noble and royal of the past, like the performances of midgets, hunchbacks, mentally handicapped and other unfortunates. As per Milán Füst, this is the reason, the means of grotesque can not be be elevated into the sublime world of "grand art".
"...the strangeness of grotesque, and the trivial clumsiness of burlesque both live separated from this "grand art" says Füst with axiomatic confidence..
This wise and precisely worded sentence, - written at the year when I was born (which is indicating that it happened almost before our era) - doesn't hold up, not one piece of it these days. In the context of contemporary art, the expression grand art not only became obsolete, but almost ridicolous. The strangeness and triviality of both the grotesque and burlesque became facts of not just art, but our everyday life.
But how we experience the dramaturgy of grotesque in our day-to-day lives? Let me illustrate it with an anecdote. We were traveling from Budapest with my friend, Miklós Szőcs to fulfil our jury duty for this exhibition. We stopped at a gas station to buy motorway fee vignette. The "shop" was closed and deserted. It turns out, the station was closed. I was surprised, since even though it was half past six in the morning, I never saw any closed gas station on a motorway. 'Never mind!, I thought, there's another about two kilometers down the road. It was open sure enough, but the kind teller lady told us that she cannot sell us a vignette, since 'the system has collapsed'. 'Now what?' We asked ‘Without a vignette, will we be fined then?’. ‘Naturally’, she reassured us, that it’s not a total breakdown of the system, since the fining side is still operational. ‘Then what should we do?’, we asked. It turns out, the Motorway Supervision is right in the basement of the neighbouring McDonald’s, we can buy our vignette there. At said and improbable place, we only found a cleaning lady, who told us that the office will open at seven o’clock. We waited then. After a few minutes past seven, we got in, and the place was deserted besides a lonely teller. We had to get a queue number- We waited until the announcing system called us to a window, where we could finally pay a few thousand Forints for our vignette, and finally start off to Kaposvár.
Isn’t this story grotesque? It sure is. This is why I claim, that grotesque is our everyday reality.
Furthermore I say that the grotesque, even if it’s not the only, but indisputably the most efficient and authentic way of artistic expression. Nevertheless the diabolical unpredictability is still there (i.e. closed Gas Station) and so the distorted implying chaos (i.e. collapsed system). Implying the reality without order, which pervades our age, and which, in a larger context, distanced humanity from the Divine Order. This is the deranged world of Lucifer, as said in the London Scene of THe “Tragedy of Man from Madách:
And just in this distortion I delight.
A grinning ape that counterfeits man’s face;
Magnificence; then pelting it with mud;
Concupiscence; a penitent’s hair shirt;
A hymn to chastity from harlot’s lips;
The worship of the worthless and the small;
The curse the worn out rake doth hurl at love;”
(Translated by J. C. W. Horne)
We should note that the face of the devil mutable, and he prefers to hide behind interesting looking diversity. This is the reason, the beings of the underworld, and the other shapeshifting entities can turn into almost any shape. In the hungarian folklore only the lambs and doves are the exceptions from this, and the reason for this is clear. So our lives are unpredictable in a lot of ways.
The realism of grotesque is also about if the artist cna stare into the eyes of the devil, showing him his own protean image. This is the reason these artists deserve our respect, who can laugh and cry at the same time, similar to those “entertainers” of the past.
The awardees and those artists of the highest standart of this year’s competition all had a duality, ambiguity in their works, perplexing us.
The younger Ferenc Ficzek for example photographs harmless vegetables, which then turn into scary monsters in his interpretation.
Even the title “Dualities” of the graphics of István Mátrai refers to this, implying the several thousand years old Altamiran Bison using the shapes of printed circutry, a hallmark of our age.
The material of the work of Imre Pistyur, volcanic stone, and the method which he uses to shape his creations from one block could evoke the art of the american Aztecs, if it wasn’t showing a typical 21st century gesture of speaking on a cellphone.
Gábor Flórián’s “Sausage” impressively formulates said sausages from wires, including the usual label too.
Gábor Homolya’s “Dispraxia” is a no less impressively made object, with even more layers of meaning, since it’s a boot with two toecaps, looking like if two boots are fusing together. This obvious uselessness turns it into a work of art.
The brilliant depiction of a pair of people of Nándor Hérics could also be called ambiguous, since the apparent hastyness, the agglomerate of waste boards entails a very strict compositional order.
I wish further successful work for the artists, and a lot of strength and perseverance for the organizers of this exhibition, so we can meet again next time.
György Szemadám, painter, writer, regular member of the Hungarian Academy of Arts.
9th GROTESQUE TRIENNIAL
International Grotesque Fine Art and Crafts Competition and Exhibition
"Stand with your legs apart. Bend forward all the way. Look back between your legs. Thank you.
Now look around you and take stock of what you see. The world has been stood on its head...."
István Örkény: The Grotesque (A practical approach) (excerpt)
The exhibition is a featured event of the Rippl-Rónai festival of Kaposvár. The exhibition will take place between 29th of May and 1st of August, 2015 in the Vaszary Gallery of Kaposvár.
K a p o s v á r, 7. Toldi M. street
Mailing address: 7401 Kaposvár, Pf.: 79.
Tel.: 06-20/9839-685, 06-20/9367-316
The change of the system in Hungary resulted not only in the realignment of economy but also of arts, fine and applied arts. After 1990, the artists’ need to form different groups was elemental.
Today the Hungarian art life has a very varied system in structure which can be detected through the atmosphere and approach of exhibitions. However, the problems in financing, operating and maintaining this system are increasing.
The KaposART is one of the oldest formations, founded on territorial basis. Still, the management of the association is flexible in accepting new members which resulted in a mixed membership consisting of artists e.g. from Budapest, Miskolc, Szekszárd, Kecskemét, Baja, Pomáz and what is more, over the border, for example Transylvania.
Their members are painters, sculptors, graphic artists, photographers, art managers. They have developed close relations with Hungarian artists over the border and other foreign art associations. Their exhibitions regularly showcase works of yet unknown artists accentuating and indicating the unity of Hungarian culture and art.
They welcome to the association those who are young and those who only start or restart as artists, whose works are not yet recognised at national level (in many cases not even in their own surroundings) but they are creators of exciting new pieces.
Basically it is typical of their spirit and thinking, their artistic character that a kind of innovative attitude governs the majority of the members therefore the association itself.
Their exhibitions project an aspect of freshness, dominated by new media. The association has a strong line of staging exhibitions, organises art workshops so their activity is complex and full of new initiatives. Organising workshops enables them to spot new talents and candidates for membership as well as a more relaxed communication between participants and members. Moreover, they do this while struggling with the problem of living outside Budapest, -which is admittedly one of the plagues of the contemporary Hungarian art life.
In the association the varied artistic achievements have always resulted in a quality bordering on the avant-garde, progressive ambitions and the KaposART often stages thematic exhibitions which are more challenging for the members. Besides, they do not neglect the role of traditions, as they have members who see their artistic task and the essence of their calling in cherishing and re-interpreting these traditions.
Among the crowd of art associations mentioned above, the KaposART Association of Fine and Applied Arts has already achieved an undoubtedly professional rank. Their events, programmes and exhibitions are not only worth attention but it is our duty to look out for them. At least for those, who are open to new values, fresh approach, daring ventures- the Hungarian art of our times. And I am one of them.
Budapest, June 2008
The KaposART Association has always had a privileged role in the history of Hungarian art associations and it is a pleasure to write about this.
It is of great importance and it has to be mentioned, that KaposART was the first art association to be formed in Hungary after the change of the system. The association was founded on 4 September 1990 by mutual agreement of 13 artists. Apart from setting their targets at local level, they got engaged in new tasks at national level thus indicating that in their concept art is not considered a local or personal phenomenon. In less than 6 months, the I. National Exhibition of Grotesque Fine and Applied Arts was opened.
A year later, in 1992 taking advantage of new possibilities arising from the change of the system, the KaposART is stepping over the borders when comes up with its second initiative and calls the I. International MAIL-ART Competition. Through this they achieved one of their original goals – to attract the representatives of contemporary international art to Kaposvár) When the exhibition was organised for the 2nd time, (in 1995) they took it one step further, involving artists from all over the world (adding a subtitle: International Mail Art Exhibition.) Those who paid close attention to the activities and events of the association, found hard to miss the increased interest among artist in Hungary and abroad as well among the public. It was noticeable that in Kaposvár the art life (both fine and applied arts) has livened up since 1990.The association was donated numerous award-winning pieces from the collections of grotesque exhibitions, which compile the Grotesque Collection, a ready-made exhibition material. During the first 10 years of its existence, the association staged 35 exhibitions in Kaposvár and numerous other venues in Hungary and abroad. They displayed their works in Kaposvár’s twin towns, Glinde (Germany), Saint_Sebastien-sur-Loire (France), Schio (Italy), Bath (UK), also in Vrbrovec (Croatia), Enna(Sicily), in the museums of Nagyvárad and Kolozsvár. In 2007 the association had a show in Bath, Kaposvár’s twin town and Nantes (France). So the development of international relations works both ways, KaposART manages the promotion of Hungarian art and invites foreign artists to Hungary as well.A town’s cultural achievements and traditions have greater impact on its image and reputation than one might assume. Now during its existence, KaposART has established a tradition in Kaposvár’s art life with its two exhibitions and competition rounds.
I believe that just these two series of exhibitions placed Kaposvár in the first line of notable exhibition organiser towns, brought national reputation and recognition to the town.