2010. november 13., szombat

GO TO FINLAND

Friday, 19th of November
10 -12.00: „Art with a Double Meaning” – Lecture of István Orosz in Aalto University The lecture will take place in the Design Department (Taideteollinen korkeakoulu, Hämeentie 135. Helsinki, 8th floor, 885).
18.00: "PIIRRETTY AIKA" Art exhibition of István Orosz in the gallery of Hungarian Cultural and Scientific Centre Helsinki (Kaisaniemenkatu 10). The exhibition will be opened by Kristóf Fenyvesi, researcher of the University of Jyväskylä. The exhibition will remain open till the 14th of Jannuary 2011.

Sunday, 21st of November
Heureka Finnish Science Center, (Tiedepuisto 1, Vantaa) Virtanen Hall:
12-14.00: Non stop projection of the animated films by István Orosz.
14-16.00: „Art with a Double Meaning” – Lecture of István Orosz with the introduction by Jouko Koskinen, director of Heureka.

Monday, 22nd of November
12-14.00: Animations and lecture of István Orosz Turku, Arts Academy, (Linnankatu 54-60, Turku) Kuvateatteri-hall.

2010. október 21., csütörtök

HYPERION

Hyperion: On the Future of Aesthetics – it is a New York based monthly web publication which features philosophers writing on art. The title of the Special Section in the october issue: The Art of István Orosz.

2010. október 17., vasárnap

BYE, MANDELBROT


Benoît B. Mandelbrot the father of fractal geometry died today.

...AND BYE MY VOTE!
POSTER SHOW IN NEW YORK
School of Visual Arts (SVA) presents "Where Is My Vote? Posters for the Green Movement in Iran," an exhibition of 150 political posters by graphic artists world wide created in support of the protests in Iran that followed the 2009 presidential election. The exhibition features posters by some of the most celebrated graphic artists working today, including R. O. Blechman, Cathie Bleck, Seymour Chwast, Ivan Chermayeff, Milton Glaser, Robert Grossman, Anita Kunz, Yossi Lemel, Jennifer Morla, István Orosz, Woody Pirtle, Andrea Rauch, Ralph Steadman, Gary Taxali, James Victore and Massimo Vignelli, among others. For more details click here.
He is Seymour Chwast with my poster (the green one)

2010. szeptember 13., hétfő

COLOR MIXTURE




















Sepia, czyan, azure, rose,
Violet, cobalt, silver, purple,
Ruby, bronze, green, white,
Yellow, umber, scarlat, indigo,
Citrine, cadmium, olive, magenta,
Mustard, fallow, crimson, xanadu,
Carmine, auburn, amber, sienna,
Orchyd, copper, sangria, orange.

Orccub, sansien, entawhi, sever,
Onlet, yeltard, copam, oranadu,
Indiple,realt, piaru, rinecar,
Falhyd, muslow, viocy, byse,
Cobazu, purgo, xange, berper,
Crimgria, nason, urncadm, minecit,
Umlow, verge, iumlet, nzeoli,
Enro, temag, scarbro, silber.

In Hungarian




















ezüst, bíbor, kobalt, fekete,
cián umbra, ibolya, kadmium,
vörös, azúr, bordó, szeladon,
indigó, barna, olív, cinóber,
viola, sárga, kármin, sziéna,
skarlát, ekrü, narancs, rubin,
okker, türkiz, lila, szépia,
fehér, opál, ultramarin, arany

fehtür, ultraszé, naszela, etelya,
borán, indker, opli, arbin,
cinium, baltra, üstvö, laok,
ekkér, skarigó, cibí, rösez,
umbko, kadmóber, ruany, laál,
naramarin, piancs, kizsár, kervio,
barrü, minbor, gaív, úrkár,
dófek, donszié, olaz, ibona

In Russian - translated by Tatjana Bonch
(Thank you, Tanja !)



















Лилкаш, санох, жентабе, забро,
Анлет, жёлчица, медян, оранжаду,
Индипур, зурьбальт, пияру, монкар,
Земовый, гортый, фиоци, бинсе,
Кола, пурго, ксаневый, тарьный,
Малигрия, рана, танкад, минли,
Умля, реззе, мийый, нзашарт,
Леньро, лыймад, албро, серебра.

This technical guide can help you
to translate the poem to other languages.



a1 – c2 – e1 – g2 – h4 – g6 – h8 – f7 – d8 – b7 – a5 – b3 – c1 – e2 – g1 – h3 – g5 – h7 – f8 – d7 – b8 – a6 – b4 – a2 – c3 – b1 – a3 – b5 – a7 – c8 – b6 – a8 – c7 – e8 – g7 – h5 – g3 – h1 – f2 – d1 – e3 – f1 – h2 – f3 – d2 – c4 – b2 – a4 – c5 – d3 – f4 – e6 – d4 – f5 – d6 – e4 – f6 – g8 – h6 – g4 – e5 – c6 – e7 – d5.

2010. augusztus 21., szombat

MORE SKULLS

Some more skulls - continuation of the one year old note. (Illustrations for The Ship of Fools by Sebastian Brant.)





2010. július 24., szombat

BRIDGES AND LIGHT SYMPOSIUM IN PÉCS

The Bridges Conferences, running annually since 1998, brings together practicing mathematicians, scientists, artists, educators, musicians, writers, computer scientists, sculptors, dancers, weavers, and model builders in a lively atmosphere of exchange and mutual encouragement. Important components of these conferences, in addition to formal presentations, are hands-on workshops, gallery displays of visual art, working sessions with artists who are crossing the mathematics-arts boundaries, and musical/theatrical events in the evenings. In this year the Bridges Conference will be held in Pécs, the Cultural Capital of Europe between 24 and 28 of July. My lecture will be on Monday 11:45 AM. Title: „Art with a Double Meaning - Poem and Poet from an Anamorphic Point of View” All other details are on the website of the conference.
As soon as Bridges finishes, the VIII. International Light Symposium will start. My lecture will be on Friday (30th of July) in the House of Arts (Széchényi tér 7-8) in the morning section. Title: Nothingness Depicted.

2010. június 28., hétfő

WORDS ON SIGHT

(Opening speech of a poster exhibition)

I am not at all surprised that I should give a short speech here. It is the normal way of the opening of an exhibition. But I hope you see the paradox idea in it: we are to communicate the visual orally. To be honest, it is not ‘comme il faut’. And to be more honest, it makes no sense. And I also should apologize for not being the man of words.

Of course not only the possibility but the fairness to discuss the works of the exposition and of graphic design on the whole is questioned now. We always tell the students of visual communication that they should be able to express themselves through different kinds of media, they should tell the message and also interpret it. However, life is different. I always find it very suspicious if I should explain to my employers what my works mean, how they should see or interpret them. I thought not to be a gentleman when giving the interpretation of something that can be seen, or I would simply misguide them if it cannot be seen or if they can’t see it, and the meaning I’d like to refer to is only the product of my imagination. And what if only the client cannot see it but hundreds of people can? Keeping on interpreting your work to them is still not moral. You should take it home and work on it or simply give up. For me, my favourite works are the given up. (The only problem is that you can’t make a fortune out of them.)

It was only once that I felt that it is a must, important and it also makes me feel good to talk about pictures, to transform the images, which once I could form on a piece of paper, further into words and also to explain my intentions and to make them clear to the viewers. It took place in a foreign country at the end of the last millennium on a graphic design congress. In a theatre, I had to say some words on me and also to give a lecture and present a slide show on Hungarian posters including mines, too. I tried to give just the basic information on the pictures and almost never referred to what was visible and therefore evident. I gave my speech in English, the audience wore earphones and some interpreter behind the screens translated it into Spanish. After a while, I saw that the audience could not see what I meant. Some took off their phones, asked the others next to them to explain what they saw, to interpret what they heard. Somewhat later, the interpreter informed me on an embarrassed voice through the speakers that he could not follow me and would like me to return to some of the phrases I used and to explain them to him because he could not see what they referred to. Of course, I agreed on it and also told him to come next to me to the stage, so he could easily notify if something would not be clear. He told me through the speakers that he was coming and some minutes later two men appeared on the stage, they were the interpreter and a man leading him as the interpreter was blind - from the moment he was born, as I later got to know. He had never ever seen. It was easy to see that he could hardly or not at all imagine what I meant by the meaning of illusion, when I was talking about works of mine that have different meanings according to the distance and the angle you look at them. Moreover, there were the anamorphic distortions, the visual paradoxes, “optical hanky-pankies”. I had to change my conception on the whole, I shouldn’t apply any of the images in my speech at all. However, my words should have been “visual”. It could not have been very exciting to my actual audience, but he started to enjoy it very much, and – though ashamed of – I also did. I managed to get over the shame you feel if the other person is lacking something you have got, though you do not deserve it. And I didn’t have any moral scruples, as he could not “check” if it is the truth that I am talking about or if I lead him by his nose. Of course, I thought I was telling the truth, or – to be honest – when I was not, I did never keep it as a secret. Let’s face the truth: our profession, commercial graphic design is about cheating. The art of “hocus-pocus”. Just consider the following fact: the product you’d like to sell should be presented as something better, more attractive than what in fact it is. No matter whether your product is washing powder, sanitary napkin or a theatre performance or – especially - a political party. Can the graphic designer be forgiven if he notifies you in good time and makes it evident with some visual effect that you have got into the world of illusion, if he acts the way the famous Hungarian illusionist did and says right at the beginning that “watch my hands, because I’m cheating”?
Let me take the risk of giving another statement on whether words have anything to do with those fields of art whose materials are other than words. As a layman, I’m absolutely aware of the fact that my statement is not at all strong and easy to attack. It was taught that works of art means the unity of ‘content’ and ‘form’. So, it is only ‘content’ that you can transform into words. Their more “important” part, their ‘form’ can never be interpreted like that. Our clearest art, the art of music has only form, therefore, it can never be told. You are able to understand, feel, be passionate about, die for it, but are unable to translate it. If we accept that convergences do exist among the arts – just to avoid the idea of development – I believe in the progress of a kind of abstraction to music forms.
But we went too far. So, it is the connection between words and visual communication that I wanted to dedicate this opening of the exhibition to. I used to had a workshop for young poster-designers in the same country where I met the blind interpreter, and I wanted them to work according to the following phases: first, put into words what your posters are going to be about, that is, the ‘message’. You can also write it down. After this, read these words through once, twice, three times, four times, etc. You will see that there are words, even sentences that you don’t need. Delete them. Reading them through more times, you’ll still find words or phrases that can be deleted. “Minimize and reduce”. And when you won’t need any of the words, of the letters even, can tell that you are ready with your poster.
(Despite of my adventures with the interpreter, I still believe that a good work is not in need of words. This exhibition is neither in one. So please, forgive me for talking so much.)

2010. június 10., csütörtök

WARSAW

The International Poster Biennale located in Warsaw at the Poster Museum of Wilanow is the oldest and one of the most important and prestigious artistic event of its kind in the world. The first biennale was held in 1966. The 22nd one was opened in the last week. Four of my works are exhibited and one of them, entitled ”Volk” got the Bronze Medal. You can see the poster in a March note of the last year. One of the accompanying events of the biennale is the exhibition of the Hungarian Poster Association; it takes place in the Węgierski Instytut Kultury.
Some years ago, I was asked to design a poster for the jubilee 20th Poster Biennial in Warsaw – Posters are said to be the art of “here and now”. I wanted to describe this relationship in that poster.
*
An other news from America: my work is among the 100 finalists of the 2nd Chicago International Poster Biennial.
*
And one more poster news: School of Visual Arts (SVA) presents "Where Is My Vote? Posters for the Green Movement in Iran," an exhibition of political posters created in support of the protests in Iran that followed the 2009 presidential election. The exhibition is the first public viewing of the posters in printed form. Opened: 2010-08-30 - 2010-09

2010. május 30., vasárnap

A SHOW OF BILL AND ISTVAN

Exhibition in Gallery 9.
(from the opening speech by András)
...you can see some works by two artists, kindred spirits. The careers of Bill Ronalds and of István Orosz are parallel in many ways. Both of them draw with magical ease and with spectacular results. Both are interested in the secrets of nature and of mysticism. Both of them like illustration and have tried their hands in university education. Both of them find fault with two dimensions – and occasionally wander into the realm of objects. Both of them are much liked personalities, tend to be the prime movers of the artists’ organisations they happened to join. From now and then they seem to have swapped roles: Istvan sent illustrations for American monthlies, and Bill brought his students to Budapest to present European culture on the spot. But there are differences as well. Bill, for instance liked to design record jackets, and illustrated science textbooks. Even drove a taxi. István, on the other hand is interested in traditions, rather than in his own age. As if his all his career had been anchored in classical Antiquity. Despite all this, he designed the poster by far the most known in the history of Hungarian applied art, the one that is synonymous with the advent of democracy. And though he never drove a car with a meter, he published two volumes of poems – considered as ambitious in Hungary as driving a taxi in New York City. Both of them find the traditional art scene too restricted for themselves. Perhaps that’s why they the gaze the starry sky with such gusto from their own, respective country houses.
(András Török, an old friend of István, a new one of Bill)

2010. május 12., szerda

A NEW WORK

... and some details of it


You can find more about the Rhinos in my Hungarian Blog.

2010. május 1., szombat

HIDDEN FACES

- Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?
- By th’ mass, and ’tis like a camel indeed.
- Methinks it is like a weasel.
- It is back'd like a weasel.
- Or like a whale.
- Very like a whale.


There are pictures which it is not enough to simply look at: a measure of intuition is also required for their perception. From the above text, it seems that Polonius possessed just this ability, or at least he played as if he did, in order to satisfy the provocative Hamlet. Of course, this capacity can also be developed. “Nova invenzione di speculazione”, i.e., the new method of speculation – proposed Leonardo, as if he wanted to offer a mission for the revival of art, whose essence was that artistic imagination could find new, rich imagoes in splotches of plaster work, cumulus clouds or coloured pebbles. – “One only has to throw a sponge full of paint at a wall, and it will leave a stain, in which beautiful landscapes can be seen, human faces, different kinds of animals, battle scenes, cliffs, seas, clouds and forests and other such things.” If we can believe some of the research concerned with the beginnings of the arts, already prehistoric man in Altamira set to work in such a way that he got an “insight” into the image of the animal to be painted on the relief of the cavewall, and its pigmentation. If this is indeed how it happened, the explanation pertaining to the theory – namely that this intuitive method of working would be some sort of primitive creative form befitting prehistoric man – can hardly be substantiated. Such depiction would postulate the presence of a combination of two fundamentally different representational systems – let us call them iconic and symbolic, or quite complex cerebral function. The scientists would most certainly say that the synchronised function of the more intuitive right hemisphere and the more deliberate left hemisphere is the key.
The majority of “intuitive” pictures, or those of double meaning, which 21st century man brings into connection with playfulness, were often the result of serious intellectual speculation. It would suffice only to recall the strange, allegorical compositions of Giuseppe Arcimboldo. To our eyes, the portraits constructed from natural forms, animals and plants are facile, playful brainchilds, although we can also see in them the essence of Mannerism condensed into an emblem. He painted his most characteristic pictures in Prague, in the court of Rudolf II, whom many considered to be insane. Sublimated decadence, apolitical isolation from the one standpoint, and a mental force of attraction expanding across all of Europe, open to every novelty, and even a quite free cultural atmosphere, if we consider the other side. Mediaeval magic and modern natural sciences fit well together in Prague, in fact, often merged together. Kepler, Bruno, Dee. The worldview of the natural scientists bustling about Prague was fundamentally anthropomorphic: they imagined the universe as a single living, gigantic organism, which does not obey external physical laws, but is rather driven by the spirit striving for harmony.
To perceive the human in the environment, to discern that from the microcosmos to the macrocosmos which resembles man, and to endeavour to depict that. And vice versa, as well: to discover nature in man, the universe on a small scale. In fact, Arcimboldo attempted to evoke the thinking of Rudolf’s natural scientists and philosophers with the tools of painting. If one is well-versed in the sphere of thought of the era, the birth of Arcimboldian “anthropomorphic painting” is not in the least surprising; moreover, it was predictable – practically calculable. If we seek the origins of the Arcimboldian solutions, the transformations – how the objects will become portraits and the landscapes figures, it is worth mentioning Ovid, and the Metamorphoses, which was once again rediscovered about this time, and which was used as a “pagan Bible”, with many treating it as the source from Balassi to Shakespeare and Raphael to Rubens. The fact that the Archimboldian pictures are literally metamorphoses: sea creatures, plants, fruits, or just a stack of books that transform before our eyes into a human portrait, is evident, but they also metamorphically cross over into the language of artistic representation. Just as sentences are built up from words of autonomous meaning, the “phrase” of the Arcimboldian picture is constructed in the same way. All the depicted real objects are in actual fact the words used for the denomination of that certain super-real creature. This concerns a lifting out of the empirical world, and this ensuing staircase of reality obviously bears a correlation with Platonic ideas on the one hand, and with Surrealism on the other... “Two representations in a single picture”, or as it was phrased by the rediscoverer of the 20th century, Salvador Dalí, “two truths in a single position”. Furthermore, two “truths” opposed to each other. Since the large-scale exhibition in Venice in 1987, for which they attempted to gather many such images, which demonstrated similar effects, art history has designated this method the Arcimboldo effect.
Many years ago, during my poster-drawing studies at the Academy of Applied Arts, it came to my mind that precisely the poster, which we often see from a great distance, and at other times we practically bump into, this mural advertising would be an especially suitable medium for representations of double meaning. One image for the distant observer, and the other for the one who is willing to come closer. The revival of the genre could also have come to my mind, since until then the poster had been considered as the most clear-cut entity to be drafted and to least incur trouble or wasted energies. Also for reasons of content, it was exciting at the time to raise the question of multiple representations in a single picture, since we were living in the era of censors hunting for hidden messages. Or was it already the era of the vexation of censors? In the case of the so-called applied arts – my acquired profession of poster and book illustration and the like – the problem of curtailed independence also always emerges. Well, I believed, perhaps naïvely, that with the second, the mask of the often concealed depiction, I could enjoy greater freedom. Of course, understood within the capaciousness of the notion of freedom was also the compulsion nestled in the possibility of choice: we have to decide: here are not ready panels, but only possibilities. The viewer is actually a partner in creation: s/he takes a stand alongside one of the meanings of the picture. Or does not accept it and gives up. We are sentenced to freedom. Perhaps it is not by chance that Shakespeare characterised Hamlet, this herald of existentialism, who was tending toward despondency, with the habit of seeing images in the irregular forms of clouds.
The phenomenon of a hidden image within the image is a specific case when the technique of anamorphosis aids in concealing or discovering the secret. In art history, we use this expression for those compositions which have been distorted to become unrecognisable through a sophisticated geometric construction; yet if we examine them from a particular viewpoint, or if we place some sort of bject with a reflective surface on top of them, then the hidden image appears after all – resuming its original form. In accordance with two methods of this “retransformation”, there are two types of anamorphism. The first, which was employed already in the early Renaissance, is the group of so-called perspectival anamorphoses, while the other – which appeared only during the period of Mannerism and the Baroque – is the reflective anamorphoses. Shakespeare was certainly familiar with perspectival anamorphosis; moreover, a few lines from Richard II refer so obviously to anamorphic distortion, that we can rest assured that the technique called “perspective” was not unknown to theatre-goers in a London either.

For sorrow's eye, glazed with blinding tears,
Divides one thing entire to many objects;
Like perspectives, which rightly gazed upon
Show nothing but confusion, eyed awry
Distinguish form…*

I have been engaged with anamorphoses for quite some time (I drew the first sometime in the second half of the seventies), but naturally, not only the resurrection of this antiquated genre stimulates me, but I also experiment with its continued development. “Nothing but confusion”, we read from Shakespeare; but I would like if instead of the “confused depiction”, there was a basic anamorphic depiction as well, and this image of autonomous meaning would gain a new sense, a second meaning, if we were to inspect it from another point-of-view. If we regard my etching entitled Shakespeare’s Theatre straight on, as we do traditionally, we see a London theatre from the late 16th century, with actors, audience, onlookers. If, however, we stand to the right side of the wide panorama, and we look from a very flat angle, so that the wide picture tapers into a slender, vertical ribbon, then the elements of the theatre disappear: more precisely, they transform into a portrait of William Shakespeare.
The other picture belongs to the group of reflective anamorphoses. The virtual portrait of Edgar Allan Poe appears in the mirror, moreover in such a way that the horizontal elements of the drawing, appurtenances of the illustration for The Raven create the details of the portrait. If we lift the cylinder, the face disappears, and the empty, yawning room remains, together with the scattered objects, shadows, and the dreaming-remembering man inclined toward the face. The anamorphic technique, in fact, corresponds to the poetry compsition model suggested in Poe’s essay entitled, “The Philosophy of Composition”**. The artist should first dismantle and deform reality, then with the aid of fantasy and the intellect, fashion a new, but unreal world from these elements of reality. In this creative work – at least, according to Poe – there is no need for so-called inspiration, nor is there a place for irrational melancholy or for subconscious instincts. The arts should be delimited from uncontrollable emotions, creativity should be led by the intellect, and thus, pure art can be produced on a purely mathematical basis. Whether we re-read his poetry, or Poe’s self-dissecting study expounding the origins of The Raven, the feeling strikes us that Poe was deliberately concealing something: it is as if the mystical-metaphysical obscurity of his poetry and the cleverly provocative brain-storming of his The Philosophy of Composition were merely aiming to divert attention: lest we detect the despondent agony of a conflicted soul, lest we take seriously the first person singular narrator of the poem, and naturally, lest we identify him with Poe. While I attempted to work with the deliberateness and calculation recommended by Poe, I too suspected the obstacles to this scholastic consistency. And I would like to continue to believe that the “inexplicable” plays a role in every creative work, and not a trifling one. I think that Poe, too, however much he tried to hide it, was of the same opinion.
*William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark III/1
**William Shakespeare: Richard II, II.2, 16-20. In the original English, the word “perspective” at the time related to every procedure in connection with spatial representation and the production of spatial illusion, including anamorphosis. In all certainty, they also referred to the famous skull of Holbein’s painting entitled Ambassadors in this way too, which is only rendered visible if one regards it “obliquely and from a distance”. The influence of this 1533 painting may have reached as far as Shakespeare, through the works of such ambassadors as William Scrots and Nicholas Hilliard. The word “anamorphosis” appeared for the first time half a century after the staging of Richard II, in 1650, in the volume Magia Universalis, employed by a German Jesuit called Gaspar Schott. In its contemporary translation, the overly general word “perspective” would be misleading, which is why I have used the expression anamorphic diagram.
***In his essay of literary theory entitled The Philosophy of Composition, Poe gave an account of the birth of The Raven. In the essay, he claims that never before has anyone before him written down the creative process with such sincere detail; i.e., writers – especially poets – usually prefer if the world regards their creations as the fruit of some sort of noble fever, some ecstatic intuition, and they truly shudder at the thought of allowing the public to have even a glance behind the scenes. When Poe attempted revealing the modus operandi, he reached the conclusion that a literary work could be written also with cold calculation, on a mathematical basis, and should truly rather be prepared that way.

Illustrations:
István Orosz: Dürer in the Forest, etching, 1987.
István Orosz: M. C. Escher in Italy, etching, 1987.
István Orosz: Dalí and the Holy Family, etching, 1988.
István Orosz: Mozart, etching, 2005.
István Orosz: Printers, etching, 1993-95.
István Orosz: Lamarck, etching, 2004.
István Orosz: TivoLiszt, etching, 1990.
István Orosz: Balassi, etching, 2004.
István Orosz: Janus Pannonius, etching, 2008.
István Orosz: Shakespeare, etching, 1987.
István Orosz: Shakespeare Theatre, etching, 1997. (frontal view).
István Orosz: Shakespeare Theatre, etching, 1997. (viewed from a narrow angle).
István Orosz: The Raven, etching, 2006. (frontal view).
István Orosz: The Raven, etching, 2006. (viewed in a mirror tube).

2010. április 14., szerda

LABYRINTHS


It is beautiful as well as tragic about life that no one can know in advance if their choices were right or not. The subtle paths of the labyrinth eventually symbolize that you always had to make choices throughout your life and all our choices have the possibility to err. It is a strange paradox but it is the acceptance of the possibility to err that makes man free in an intellectual sense. Therefore, one is led to the conclusion that the labyrinth is the emblem of freedom.

2010. március 29., hétfő

GARDENS AND LABYRINTHS

És jön a Kert, akár az álom, / és növekedni kezd az éjben, / lélegzik, párál, szétliánoz, / mint rák a testnek erdejében. / Megfejthetetlen rétegekben / nő útvesztője: titkos ábra, / épül, pusztul, fölépül újra / hold-ütött mohos arca mása / a boldog Botanikának...

And the Garden comes, as if in a dream, / and begins to grow in the night, / breathing, misting, spreading its vines, / like a cancer in the forest of the body. / In unfathomable layers
grows its labyrinth: secret diagram, / erected, ruined, erected anew / moon-struck ancient face – replica / for happy Botany…
I am searching for a time, but in vain; yet it would have been good to find it, so that I don’t have to cite by heart the story, the often-quoted tale in which the painter puts down his brush, steps into the landscape, sets off among the bushes of the freshly painted picture, on one of the meandering trails into the distance, and disappears into the dusk setting over the garden, or is swallowed by the fog enveloping the labyrinth. The aerial perspective – as the jargon has it. He is lost before our external eye, but of course the internal eyes follow, since there within us he continues to stroll on; lost, or simply not found for an eternity. He promenades in the labyrinth that is transformed into cerebral furrows. It is not even necessary to take great pains to readjust the form: it is easy to see a labyrinth in the convoluted coil of the Moebius-strip of grey matter. There he roams; the wind subsides about him, and the birds fade away, as suits the nature of already drawn pictures. In a word, I would begin with the tale of the painter lost in his own picture, though the original has to be found in the precise quotation: needle in a haystack. Searching through the bookshelf is doomed to hopelessness, since the cardinal leading principle goes like this: “there is still a space large enough to accommodate the selected third volume of Borges”. Something like this has a greater chance of emerging from the drawer for bed linens, or from behind the refrigerator. I could say that we live on a gallows; in fact, I will say it, because it will come naturally to my writing on labyrinths. In a word, a place of loss. Please, just read (because we have nevertheless returned somehow to the bookshelf) the section of approximately a half-metre of spines: Kafka, Tamás Morus, Joyce, Santarcangeli, M. C. Escher, Umberto Eco, Szentkuthy, the Odyssy and another Borges. As it happens, exactly that which contains The Garden of Forking Paths, as well as The Book of Sand, in both of which it is just as possible to get lost between the letters as in a veritable labyrinth. The garden is eternal nostalgia. It is a summons of the desired world, and a resurrection of Paradise. The order presumably designed in Creation also casts its imagination onto the Garden of Eden, and this is why then, alongside natural forces, the laws also appear. The geometric networks are projected onto the garden, and the labyrinth takes form. Accompanying myths, religions and rituals, it is one of the most ancient motifs. As far as desire for order is logical, just as human is the wish for freedom, which often precisely in return for order, manifests itself as the contrast of geometric, symbolic and allegorical representations of order. The enigmatic point of the labyrinth is the crossroad, and the constraint to choose that appears at the intersection: this is the blessed and cursed emblem of man who yearns for freedom, and who is condemned to freedom. The possibility of going astray, the knowledge that at any time, we may decide in error: this renders the wandering in the labyrinth at once beautiful and desperate. The enter through the gate of the labyrinth means simply to step out of time, to break away from the world, to accept solitude and to surrender ourselves to the unknown forces of destiny. To its severity or its benevolence. But to err in the labyrinth is both a cultural lesson and an intellectual adventure. S/he who undertakes it can feel s/he winds Ariadne’s thread together with Plato and Dante, with the cathedral-building Freemasons, and with Piranesi, Gaudí and Picasso. The most beautiful garden experiences are related to Italy: in Tivoli the Villa d’Este Gardens, Prince Orsini’s garden in Bomarzo, or that of the Pitti Palace in Florence: the Boboli. It is not difficult to recognise that these gardens exist also within time: the trees grow with broad spreading branches, ivy runs along the walls, the fountains are overgrown with pond scum and the statues with moss. It is to no avail that I see them in their youth as projected onto the monitor of my imagination; the romanticism of fallible, ancient gardens is more fascinating. Kicking at the forest litter, I hum with Csokonai (Mihály Csokonai Vitéz: “To Solitude”): “Delight in such a place to roam / And for a poet to feel at home”. And for my type of draughtsman. The beautiful Baroque gardens blur with the gardens of my childhood: the promenade in Kecskemét with the tramping of football, the oak forest in Szepezd with the rustling of the wings of stag-beetles, and of course, the park on Hargita Street, where the densest, most velvety nights seeped from the boughs of elderberry. I know that it is not easy to convince that these gardens are in my drawings; yet, I would even swear upon it. They are all there, separately and simultaneously. The gardens, or at least the aberrations and solitudes learned from them. Their invisibility corroborates them. And the secrerts with which they entrusted me. The face of Happy Botany. The ancient verse, which I invoked above is painfully true: the fountain, the angel, and perhaps I am also real in it:

… Valahol ott kell lennie / e labirintus köldökében, / rejtelmesen és feketén, / oly feketén, akár az ében, / a mélységes, nagyodvú kútnak. / Egy angyal minden éjjel ássa, / hallatszik benn, surrog, sziszeg / csillagok fénye zuhanása. / Ott él egy teknősbéka lent, / nő ezer éve elfeledten, / mit beleejtett a fiú, / ki egykor talán én lehettem.

...Somewhere there it must be / in the navel of this labyrinth, / mysteriously black, as black as ebony, / the deep, hollow well. / An angel digs it every night, / it is audible within, the whiz and sizzle / of the light of the falling stars. / There lives a turtle below, / growing for a thousand years forgotten, / what got into the boy, / who once might have been me.


Should I continue to search for the tale of the painter who disappeared into his picture? The origin of the story? Perhaps I would only arrive at crossroads opening onto each other. Once, when I read about it, I always happened upon newer entrances. X wrote that he knows it from Y, and Y heard about it from Z. Accompanying was an infinity of allusions, and perhaps there, in infinity, where the paths of the labyrinth straighten out to become parallels, the wind subsides, the waters cease to flow, and gravity is exhausted, there the painter ambles along, dragging his long beard, as an ancient likeness of our future wise grandchildren, and his breath made visible casts a wrinkle on the translucent glass block of eternity.


Time Sights - a short animation about my gardens and labyrinths - please see here.
Mazes - you can find an other animated film here.