József Mélyi's review of Gábor Kristóf's OFFSETTING exhibition, published in Élet és Irodalom.

It seems as if painting had lost all its resources. By now reference systems had become hollow and neither construction nor destruction is possible anymore. Even idleness ceased to remain feasible. Young painters may guardedly stay away from, or instead boldly plunge into image making: only to find themselves in a blind alley. To bypass painting hence appears to be an obvious solution. Many artists dive into digital pictorial worlds, but out of such immersions rarely emerge positions that hold true. There is no solution to be found: painting had died. But again it did not. Interestingly, painting always arises where one expects it the least. For instance, nowadays it sends sings of life from the direction of the long-misjudged printmaking. Young artists’ concepts originate from traditional techniques. They often tone down the medium and utilize prints as a reference, or simply lift their aesthetics into the image.

In current artworks by Gábor Kristóf, the painterly approach has been displayed in parallel with that of the typographic. The material of the printing sheets and the color of paint played a major role in a group of his works. In another series, the process of recasting images of everyday mediums was emphasized. On the course of the past three or four years, Kristóf has been artistically versatile and curious. He never took an interest in the technique itself, or the message of the medium. Kristóf rather marveled at elementary experiences. Agitated by the refuse of mediums, his imagination was not seized on aesthetics, instead started focusing on the underlying story (narrative) behind the images. Whether what view unfolded from the sunken Costa Concordia? Can the picture, which pops up hanging from the wall in Antonioni’s Blow-Up, be recreated? Kristóf has been enjoying the experiment in the sea-of-images without too much of restraint, while remaining aware of the menace of immersion.

Kristóf’s widespread attentiveness remained, while the unrestricted freedom has been replaced by rather prudent quest. Looking at Gábor Kristóf’s exhibition Offsetting, it appears as if amidst the multidirectional research the creator came across the appropriate ratios. The various typographic ingredients and techniques constitute a proportionate blend. There is no exaggeration in line with the thrill of found colors and objects. Kristóf continues to attribute more imagination to the residue against the new; he still marvels at the beauty of found colors, forms and materials – since he is aware of the impossibility of creating that which had-not-been-created-before. In place of novelties Kristóf builds cross-reference systems as though he was plugging cables in a huge control cabinet with the adequate confidence and serious expertise. Cropped images from painting-like movies (creations of Bence Fliegauf and Roy Andersson) become rewritten offset-clichés. Hand-made prints are produced from artificial landscapes; which become engraved in our minds through countless displays and now seem to pose as if they were prints of actual paintings. Redundant photographs of the press are utilized in the same manner as computer-clichés; stills are cropped with the same detachment as the offset rubber sheet is elevated to the height of the painting. Kristóf’s works are not painterly nor abstract, not made by him and neither by a machine, are not conceptual or narrative. Yet they are painterly: having become color images “under the hand of the artist”, as a result of Kristóf’s thought. The works are also abstract since the byproduct of the printing machine cannot be anything else. They are still conceptual as Kristóf – instead of composition or light exposure - is rather fascinated by the theoretical background of the images: the dilemma of multiplicability and singleness, the problem of obsolescence and irreproducibility or a historical narrative might lie behind each seemingly abstract image. Kristóf discovers balance amongst contradictions and often opts instinctively while listening wisely and measuring right proportions.

The greatest virtue of the exhibition and of the artist is that neither equalization nor proportioning is constrained, but in fact natural. There are no forced and over-thought connections or exhaustive ideas. What remains visible is the explorative quest of the artist, and the aptitude to station possibilities against ready-made solutions in the foreground. For Gábor Kristóf, this exhibition could be valid entry on European level.

It is a serious and simultaneously conscious decision of the recently founded Horizont Gallery to debut with Gábor Kristóf’s exhibition – in a surprisingly simple and elegant white cube with rarely-seen ambitions.


Author: József Mélyi

Publication: Élet és Irodalom,  June 15. , 2015.