related exhibition:
Private Photos - Sketchbook
15. May 2000. - 11. June

József Mélyi

Heap of Images
Private Photos - Sketchbook
Gábor Erdélyi - Mariann Imre - Dezső Szabó - Tibor Szűcs
Trafó House of Contemporary Arts
15 May - 18 June 2000.


One can only write about one picture, not about many. The sentence of Roland Barthes on photography can be distorted thus in conjunction with this exhibition. Each of the photos here individually taken are not only incidental, but practically incomprehensible: the viewer, lost in the mass of impressions, focuses on a single motif with great difficulty, and instead attempts to find a clue in the total surface, delving into the overall impression.

The artists who thoughtfully wallpapered the walls of the gallery with their amateur snapshots normally think in terms of „one image”, as they photograph, paint or embroider in concrete. The genre of many images is an unexpected adventure for all.

Since Pop Art and later Conceptual Art, the amateur photo has been hoisted into Art with a capital „A”, and from time to time, experiments of a similar nature appear. The snapshot made with an automatic camera accompanies the high arts, in its various forms - montage, installation, as the base material of a painting - almost as an underground stream. Among these, the photographic self- documentation presented in the Private Photo show most resembles the author's journal or the study series of the Old Masters.

The given medium rather blurs the divergence between modes of seeing, whereby everyone apprehends the potential differently.

In comparison with the others, Tibor Szűcs is viscerally more adept with photography; nevertheless, his admitted aim here is precisely the disengagement from the genre (art photography). From his series composed of numerous self-portraits and notes on experiences written in the catalogue as an overall impression, without admission, the fleeting sensation of sadness perceptible deep within the playfulness remains, perhaps so much as the material of Italian archaeological museums remains with the tourist subsequent to their browsing through entire collections of ancient tile fragments.

Mariann Imre composes a sketchbook of fine motifs. As opposed to the others, her series is classical - if at the same time playful, undulating throughout with tension, and it remains taut even in its „extravagance”. Among the four artists, it is perhaps principally she who discovers the rules of the game for this genre, circumscribing precisely its limits.

Dezső Szabó also penetrates the playground at hand. The carpet he has spread out resembles the creativity-test in which one should draw something in the empty squares - anything at all, so long as they are not the same thing. No matter how incredible, there are those who run out of breath after just a few squares, and there are those as well - Szabó among them - who are capable of continuing until eternity.

Gábor Erdélyi wrestles with the difficulties of peripheral vision. In the case of his paintings, they possess a certain capacity of making the viewer see from an unaccustomed angle, and to force her/his close attention, rent from superficial glances. Here he concentrates exaggeratedly, composes and thus forfeits the lightness of the series. Its melancholy quotes the beauty of homemade photo albums.

I am not sure whether we gain new knowledge of the relationship between photography and art - their similarities and differences - from this exhibition, but one can feel that the task has a liberating effect on the artists, and the nicely composed presentation remains memorable thanks to the atmosphere it creates - and this is already something. The catalogue, which was designed by the woman most frequently portrayed in the pictures of the exhibition, is likewise a thoughtful and nicely executed work.

22. May 2000.