Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Balazs Kicsiny´s "Late Departure, Early Arrival" freezes time and space

"Late Departure, Early Arrival" by Balazs Kicsiny at Art on Lake, Budapest Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Balazs Kicsiny, age 53, graduated as a painter but soon found himself a middle man between painting and sculpting, looking for spaces....gaps in spaces, looking for intervention.

The internationally exhibited Hungarian concept artist stood on a bridge overlooking City Park Lake in Budapest, down at his work, “Late Departure, Early Arrival,” four car bodies chopped in half, welded together and inside, four human figures, locked in time and space sitting at a table.

This was our meeting point, the site of Art on Lake´s 25 contemporary acquarian sculptures rising from the half-meter deep, 35,000 square meter man made lake in central Budapest at Hereos´Square.

Wearing an old straw hat, simple clothes and holding his bicycle, Kicsiny seemed like a modern day reincarnation of Van Gogh.

Balazs Kicsiny Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

But only in appearance.

Kicsiny told me at water´s edge at Art on Lake, which opened 22 May and closes 4 September, that he “works with time and space and relates to the political context, how art connects space and time and events.”

In “Late Departure, Early Arrival,” Kicisny reprises a similar theme and the same four, now barely visible characters inside his vehicular, checkerboard, black and white painted paradox.

These are his frozen interior images and not easily observed except in rare times of evening illumination or by approaching the work in a boat, which many do.

The four figures first appeared in his “Temporary Resurrection” in 2010.

“The aim is to condense the contradictions of experiencing space and time into a visual paradox. When we set off from home, we can never be sure if we will return in the same time and space as the one we departed in, just as those who stayed at home cannot be sure that it is the same people returning home who they said goodbye to earlier,” Kicsiny said about his Art on Lake installation.

What´s going on inside the four-hooded vehicular sculpture is most important.

“There´s a big dining table, empty plates, sirens, motorcycle helmets, they are waiting for something,” Kicsiny said.
Four figures at a table, detail from "Temporary Resurrection" by Balazs Kicsiny
Kicsiny´s journey accelerated after the 2005, 51st Venice Biennale show at the Hungarian pavilion—“An Experiment in Navigation." 

He represented Hungary.

Art historian Peter Fitz, who also directs the Municipal Museum in Budapest, had applied to curate Kicsiny and the latter´s project. Fitz´s museum had hosted a major solo show of Kicsiny in 1999, and the two worked together well.

Fitiz is also generally considered a foremost expert on Hungarian contemporary art and is one of three curators at Art on Lake. The others: Krisztina Jerger and Dr. Alexander Tolnay.

Hungary nominated Fitz as curator and Kicsiny as artist to host the Hungarian pavilion at Venice.

There´s no doubt the Venice Biennale and Fitz helped catapult Kicsiny´s career, the artist said.
"Temporary Resurrection" by Balazs Kicsiny

Like the turn-of-the-century Hungarian Fauvists—The EightKicsiny has turned outward, not inward.

Kicsiny´s earlier paintings often appear as studies for his later installations, which draw on languages of visual arts, philosophy and theater, exploring time and space, modernity and history, stillness and motion.

Like many avant-garde tolerated artists under Communist rule, Kicsiny enjoyed a renaissance in Hungarian contemporary art, an explosion of sorts from 1981 to 1989, the year Hungarians call “political change.”

The contemporary sculptor, painter, performance and film artist loves what he calls his “freedom of movement.”
Part of "An Experiment in Navigation" by Balazs Kicsiny

He has exhibited in New York, London and throughout Europe.  

When I talked to him, he had recently returned from two intensive months teaching and working with graduate art students in St. Louis, Mo.

As the Freund Visiting Artist at the Sam Fox School, he and students prepared Kicsiny´s exhibition at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum: “Killing Time.”
“Killing Time” opens 27 January and runs through 16 April 2012.

This installation confronts killing in Iraq, Kicsiny said and will be curated by Robert Gero, lecturer in the Sam Fox Graduate School of Art.
"Late Departure, Early Arrival" by Balazs Kicsiny

Kicsiny throws himself into his work, always looking for authenticity.

He personally located a special kind of combat helmet he needed that held a live video cam at a St. Louis army surplus store, the kind that gave President Barack Obama a ring side seat to Bin Laden´s killing.

The artist continues his academic work teaching doctoral candidates at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, Budapest, from which he graduated.

He lives and works in Budapest and the UK with his British artist-wife and children.


a poem by Matthew Z. Zomick (2010)

time never changes
it is all light, lofty visions
of memories past, present and eternal
time is not real
it is all relative
aggressive yet passive
intelligent while invasive and naive
ancient but still an adolescent
a series of events, moments and memories
the present is your life
nothing more, nothing less
the past haunts you
while the future invokes fear
disfigured by faux anxiety
reality does not exist
it is created
all is relative
perceptions and preconceptions clash
as if it were the last of days

Matthew Z. Zomick is a Budapest-based New Yorker, a poet and sometimes performance artist and photographer.

Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

ArtTraveler notes:

After living at the Hotel Queen Mary in Budapest (3.5 stars), I heartily recommend it: old on the outside, otherwise totally modern (23 rooms); 

The owner and staff are affable and speak English and German. Tel: 0036-1-413-3510; www.hotelqueenmary.hu; info@hotelqueenmary.hu.

Visit Andalusia for a walking holiday or week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop. 

"Spanish Life Stilled," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)

You may reach me at stefanvandrake@gmail.com or by calling (34) 915 067 703 or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349.  

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