Patrick Nicholas Tayler
Ákos Ezer’s exhibition boom… crash… bang… opened at Art+Text Budapest Gallery on the 7th of September in the context of ‘Gallery Weekend’. The curator of the exhibition was the critic and art historian Gábor Rieder, who has been working with Ezer since his first exhibition (Accidentally, 2017) at the aforementioned gallery. Ezer’s visibility has grown in recent years as he has become a prominent figure among the young generation of Hungarian painters, receiving the prestigious Esterhazy Art Award and becoming shortlisted for the Leopold Bloom Art Award in 2017. Ezer recently represented Tanja Pol Galerie and Art+Text Budapest Gallery at the 2018 Art Berlin Fair and installed a one-man show this summer at Tanja Pol Galerie in Munich (Uncommon Days, 2018).
Ákos Ezer’s current exhibition presents the artists’ most recent artworks that depict the reoccurring motif of the stumbling man. The methods which Ezer uses to construct his paintings are partly inspired by the technical tools of kitsch, neo-expressionistic figurative tendencies and digital modelling. These form an inherent part of the discourse surrounding contemporary painting and also define Ezer as an artist deploying multiple visual strategies. The use of an overemphasised dimensionality, surface-independent patterns, chrome-like cylindrical shapes, and radical colour transitions are some of the tools Ezer utilises to create tension between the distinct layers of his paintings, resulting in the pictorial space being experienced as a place of ambiguity by the viewer. Combining dusk-tinted highlights with brutal materiality, or radically simple signs with an elaborate take on the possibilities of figuration, Ezer’s painterly constructions are complex beasts. Nevertheless Ezer’s paintings are always clear and straightforward stylistically. His works reveal themselves upon closer inspection as disciplined systems of statement-like proclamations of the brush. His painterly choices are radical and playful solutions to the many questions that figurative art poses today. In one of the small canvases of the exhibition (Gatherers, 2017), Ezer uses homogeneous stripe-gestures as a backdrop for his figures engaged in collecting firewood. The stripes end abruptly at the side of the canvas, revealing themselves as the initial layer of the painting. In other pictures Ezer uses an orderly mosaic of multi-coloured triangles to occupy the surface, only to cover this later with a loose structure of branches or oval dabs representing leaves. By using these open-ended algorithms as visual diving boards and later overwriting these by other visual structures, Ezer separates and conflicts the classical notions of the foreground, middle ground and background.
Ezer’s paintings are not concerned with the jumpy temporality of slapstick comedy, instead, he invites the exhibition-goer to dwell on the image of the bumbling and wobbling man, giving time for the viewer to consider the visual sensation before the inevitable fall. Suspended mid-action between the boom, the crash and the bang the figures of Ezer’s paintings are bathed in transitory golden light.
In his most recent paintings, (Whistle, 2018; Magician, 2018) Ezer boldly investigates the flawed mechanism of the psychological possibilities of the portrait, creating oversized images of men gazing up into the sky or being entangled in their own corporal presence. The neck is transformed into a cylinder of colour, the face becomes a flat surface. The act of gazing, and the strain of muscle when looking upwards provides the internal bodily experience which the viewer can easily identify with. Ezer’s figures are not solely based on the visual experience of the human form but are also informed by somesthesia, or body perception.
The branches, stars, leaves and clouds in the background reinforce the notion that Ezer’s paintings can be interpreted as investigations of how one can find their place in nature today. In the case of the painting Hide and Seek (2018) the depicted person is using his wrist to block out the view or maybe to dim the sun that is beating down on his face. The rays of sunshine are visually echoed in the vertical pattern of the neck, and at the same time the up and down motion of the brush is preserved as well. In strong contrast with Ezer’s stumbling figures, the men depicted in these decontextualized portraits are not confronted with the immediate vision of their fall, but instead with the possibility of the world tumbling down on them.
Art+Text Gallery, Budapest
8th September – 19th October 2018