Patrick Nicholas Tayler


“It would be necessary to follow (…) from one turn to the next, with its curves, vacillations, uncertainties, sudden changes of direction, inflections, continuations, slight regressions, but it would take more time, a few minutes, a few seconds, and it is already, now, too late.”

(Alain Robbe-Grillet)[1]


Zita Dávid: Breaking Waves, 2018, tempera on paper, 29 x 30 cm | Photograph: Zita Dávid, image courtesy of the artist

In Zita Dávid’s exhibition, 2016. 08. 11. –, images and text merge with each other to create a non-linear narrative, where the struggle to recall memories gains importance due to its relationship with mortality and the fleeting quality of time. There are three compositions that were exhibited alongside each other in the corridor leading to the main exhibition hall that manifest the omission of someone from a profoundly personal space (Surroundings I-II-III., 2016-2017). The exhibition on a larger scale also delineates the absence of a beloved person. Not depicted but evoked through fragmentary visions, the artist’s departed father emerges as a central figure in the exhibition that is just as much a portrait, as it is a quest to structure reality into a meaningful system after a great loss. On the white walls of Hidegszoba Studio, Zita Dávid’s paintings are scattered in asymmetrical groups, creating possibilities for associations and personal interpretations to surface. Any image can provide the so-called Barthesian-punctum, the pin-point sized entrance to an image: it only depends on where the viewer finds a personally relevant doorway. There is no prescribed beginning or end, the exhibition presents a space of simultaneity. These pictures seem to linger in front of the wall, and reveal themselves on closer viewing to be tempera paintings: paper-thin artworks that are filled with minute, opaque gestures, testifying their contemplative and time-consuming character.


Installation, 2018, tempera on paper, various dimensions | Photograph: Aliz Török

What does the artist try to reconstruct and grasp through her intensely precise visual descriptions? Her paintings suggest the urge to reach a metaphysical layer of reality: a kind of gaze is at work here that tries to see beyond its subject. In the painting 17th of November (2018), we read “I am afraid I will forget the details.” in thin, partially breaking letters. This affirms Zita Dávid’s gestures as an act of fixing – prosaic or tragic but always – ephemeral situations. Through the exegesis of her paintings, it seems possible to retrace the psychological and physical position of the artist at a certain point in time. These different stages of the ever-changing identity and the different phases of mourning are reflected in Zita Dávid’s exhibition.


Zita Dávid: Installation, 2018, tempera on paper, various dimensions | Photograph: Aliz Török


Zita Dávid: Mirror, 2018, tempera on paper, 30 x 40 cm | Photograph: Zita Dávid, image courtesy of the artist

Zita Dávid: Fly, 2018, tempera on paper, 16 x 12 cm
| Photograph: Zita Dávid, image courtesy of the artist

Zita Dávid: Surroundings I. 2016, tempera on paper, 30 x 25 cm | Photograph: Zita Dávid, image courtesy of the artist

In the painting Surface (2018) we see an expanse of multi-coloured gravel and shimmering shards of glass transform into a meditative field. It is viscerally close – an accumulation of details emerge through the thinly applied layers of paint – but at the same time a kind of birds-eye perspective seems to distance us, turning the microcosmic relations into a topographic dimension. Similarly in the painting titled Breaking Waves (2018) the viewer’s position is precarious, ever-changing. In this calligraphically constructed composition, the body of the water breaks apart, and the viewer has to choose between reading the painting as a series of abstract signs of fragile, white paint or looking (and in imagination falling) into the depth of these illusionistically constructed waves.


In the painting Mirror (2018) there is no immediate danger, or rather this is rendered invisible. The contemplated scene, the foggy bathroom looking-glass is the trigger, which lets the absence of something become suddenly apparent. The viewer temporarily might find a certain distraction in the simple narrative of the droplets. Instead of the actual confrontation, it is tempting to let reality become somehow mundane,  beside the point, like a theatre piece we don’t understand why we are watching. The immersion into close-ups presents the only viable option in creating a universe which can be personally inhabited. In Fly (2018) there is also an atomisation of the image, a classical portrait is cropped and mapped by a seemingly lonesome fly. Tiny white dabs of paint fill the composition, that also reappear in the series of images, that show written sentences, like in the case of 10th of November (2018). These painstakingly crafted text-images form an emotionally open-ended, sometimes even ambiguous dialogue with the paintings. The white dots evoke the laboriousness of handicraft, of the slow and monotonous process of animating a surface.

Zita Dávid’s paintings provide poetic images that give the viewer an inter-subjective experience. The barriers of the self are questioned as the observer is driven to look through the artist’s eyes, becoming personally involved.



at Hidegszoba Studio, Budapest

30th of November, 2018 – 21st of December, 2018.


[1] Alain Robbe-Grillet: Jealousy and In the Labyrinth, Grove Press, New York, 1994 p. 265-266.