Photo Credit: David Biró
The solo exhibition of Márta Kucsora at the Kepes Institute in Eger is the second monographic overview of her paintings in a major Hungarian museum.
The Hungarian painter’s distinctive pieces are characterized by her use of radical possibilities of abstract-lyrical form-building. The materiality of the surfaces applied with paint gives Kucsora’s works their subject matter. Emotionally animated, energetic, and passionate, the vast, often larger-than-life dimensions of her canvases push the boundaries of the spatial expanse of the medium. Kucsora’s compositions recall the abstract expressionist heroic feminist artists who worked as sensitive seismographs of society, such as Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, and Perle Fine, all captured the unfathomable depths of the environment with a liberating vitality. Similarly to contemporary painters exploring the vast possibilities of the physical dimension of the paint that possess a psychologically encoded depth, such as Julie Mehretu or Katharina Grosse, Kucsora’s canvases invoke the richness and complexity of human emotions, while also revealing the rhythm of the interrupted and uninterrupted processes of the universe and the entropy—the state of disorder—of nature.
The core of the exhibition at the Kepes Institute serves three recent monumental paintings by Márta Kucsora, which fill the central, representative room of the contemporary art museum like large-scale triptychs that are on the verge of stretching the boundaries of the exhibition space. In addition to the canvases, the show also includes a video installation that seeks to expand the traditional paraphernalia of painting. The latter work nuances the aesthetic experience of unrepeatable processes by creating a link between two seemingly contradictory forms of art experience, the immersive and the contemplative, through communication channels that correspond to the visual thinking of the present day.
The artist’s idiosyncratic action painting is about the dialectic of the conscious and the accidental. Having that in regard, the chosen medium—whether it is a painted canvas or a digital video—plays a secondary role, since the format of the image serves only as an instrumental tool, recording the imprint of the experiments. Considering painting as a narrative strung together in a dialogue of different abstract qualities, the dramaturgy of Kucsora’s works is based on the technique she opted for, playing with the proportions of dyes and solvents produced on a chemist’s scales, dripped or splashed onto dried or moistened linen canvas. The works are the product of an „alla prima” painting in which the study of the physical interaction of materials is inseparable from the dynamics of the surface’s possession by the painter’s body.
Márta Kucsora’s works were created with the intention of modeling in real time the infinitely variable morphology of the material that makes up the universe. While in the canvases of the artist the stages of the picture’s eventful history of creation are assembled into a solidified, completed, and exhausted snapshot, in her video work an ephemeral structure in a state of continuous transformation commemorates the genesis, gradual rearrangement, and disappearance of paint materials of different densities.
The paintings in the exhibition render the aesthetics of nature’s inexhaustible possibilities, condensed into a single composition. Márta Kucsora’s works are an intimate, sublime, and poetic, but also awe-inspiring, dramatic, and majestic record of the mysterious forces operating in the depths of the universe. The works also reveal a kind of ecocriticism, as they convey both the miraculous capacity of nature to replenish its own resources and the potentially catastrophic consequences of losing this capacity. In philosophical terms, Kucsora’s compositions are illustrations of what Novalis called ’sensible chaos.’ It combines Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s bioromantic approach with Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy to see nature as the dominion of a single unifying principle that manifests itself in all the movements and forms that make the world work.
The spot of the exhibition in Eger is the result of a conscious choice. The close contact with the works of György Kepes, who spent his life working on the vertical expansion of the intellectual and conceptual experience of the use of visual images and who has coined the metaphor of the “new landscape” to describe the unknown dimensions of visual perception, adds unexpected contexts to Kucsora’s intention to depict the invisible topologies of the world around us. Márta Kucsora’s overwhelming canvases in the Kepes Institute reveal an undeniable affinity with the works of György Kepes, an author of lyrical-abstract images who in a similar vain to Kucsora, was preoccupied to re-develop his work through the sovereign language of new media. What links them intellectually is a commitment to art that translates the dogmatism of scientific discovery into the language of emotion.
Kucsora’s compositions, which evoke the historical tradition of gesture painting, are seeking to convince us that the reflexive mechanisms of the subconscious regions and the subjectivity inherent in the performative act of painting serve to reinforce and interdepend on each other in the creation of the aesthetic moment.
Márta Kucsora (1979, Szeged) lives and works in Budapest. Her paintings are hosted by several museums and private collections worldwide. She had a solo show at the Kunsthalle Budapest in 2021, a monographic exhibition at Patricia Low Contemporary in Switzerland in 2022, at Kálmán Makláry Fine Arts in Budapest, and at Postmasters Gallery in New York in 2020.
Márton Orosz, Phd, Director of Vasarely Museum Budapest