The exhibition of Károly Kelemen (1948) at acb Plus ̶ a selection of works by the artist mainly from the 1990s ̶ provides insight into typical elements of the artist’s private mythology. One of these is Teddy the teddy bear, who appeared in Kelemen’s works in the mid-1980s.
The teddy bear is as much the protagonist as a supporting character in the journey through art historical topoi and referenced oeuvres unfolding in Kelemen’s works. Such deheroisation of the avant-garde and the gestures of appropriation are already prominent in Kelemen’s early eraser works and ‘graphite paintings’ from the late seventies. In these works, the artist deconstructs iconic moments of avant-garde art.
Expanding on this idea, after his ‘painterly turn’ in the early 1980s, in his colourful, vibrant figurative canvases, constructed paintings and sculptures the rewriting of different periods in art history and the use of cultural and political symbols become decisive.
The exhibition, which borrows its title from one of the paintings on display (a piece from a series started in 1987), also features a selection from the artist’s small-scale Prepared Abstract Paintings. These pieces demonstrate the ways of abstract painting, ‘pure painterliness’, but also anthropomorphise the compositions by applying eyes to the canvas, which, although reminiscent of the eyes of toy animals, are in fact glass prostheses used by taxidermists.