Born 1976 Transylvania, RO Lives and works in Budapest, Hungary
Education: 1995-2001 Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, painting department, Budapest, HU 1990-1994 High School of Fine Art and Craft, Tg-Mures, Transylvania, RO
2018-2021 Stipend of Hungarian Academy of Arts 2007-2009 Derkovits Stipend 2008 Stipend of City Council Budapest,-Lisboa, PT 2006 Stipends of Hungarian Academy in Rome 2005 Barcsay Painting Prize 2004 Strabag Painting Prize
2020 (Group Show) Contemporary Human, Galleri NB, Viborg, DK (Solo Show) Kálman Makláry Gallery, Budapest, Hu (Solo Show) MOBIUS Gallery, Bucharest, Ro (Solo Show) Shadows of Lautréamont, Balassi Institute, Brussel, B (curator: Kalmán Makláry) (Group Show) BRAFA Art Fair, with Kálman Makláry Gallery
2019 (Solo Show) Perception is Identity, Michael Schultz Contemporary, Berlin, DE (curator: Michael Schultz) (Group Show) Art Karlsruhe, with Michael Schultz Gallery, DE (Group Show) Antic and ArtFair, with Kálman Makláry Gallery, Budapest, Hu
2018 (Solo Show) Feelings as Facts, Memory as Identity, Museum of Academy of Arts, Tianjin, China (curator Xu Juan, Wang Wei) (Group Show)- Homo Deus, 24A Orchard Street New York (curator: Anton Svyatsky) (Group Show) I to Eye, Mobius Gallery, Bucharest (Group Show) New Black Romanticism- Topicov Salon, Prague, CZ (curator: Christoph Tannert) (Group Show) Capital@Art International- Frankfurt, DE (curator: Xu Juan)
2017 (Group Show) New Black Romanticism- Kunsthause Bethanien, Berlin, DE (curator: Christoph Tannert) (Solo show) This Game has No NAME (with Crocodile Power) Triumph Gallery, Moscow, RU (curator: Marina Boblaeva) (Group Show) New Black Romanticism- StadtGalerie, Kiel, DE (curator: Christoph Tannert) (Solo show) The Dawn After Yesterday-The Concept Space, London, GB (curator: KB. Stowe) (Group Show) New Black Romanticism- Romanian National Gallery, Bucharest, Ro (curator: Christoph Tannert)
2016 (Group Show) Harbour of the Heart, Sanya, Hainan, China (curator: Huang Mei) (Solo Show) Chamber of Secrets- Mobius Gallery, Bucharest, RO (curator: Michelle Robecchi) (Group Show) Gardens and Ateliers, Kunsthalle, Budapest, HU (curator: Mária Szilágyi Kondor) (Group Show) First Silk Road International CulturalExpo, Dunhuang-Gansu, China (curator: Huang Mei)
2015 (Solo Show) The Utopian Delusion,–Michael Schultz Contemporary, Berlin, DE (curator: Michael Schultz) (Group Show) ExtensionRo - Triumph Gallery, Moscow, RU (curator: Yana Smurova, Dan Popescu) (Solo Show) Unmoving Targets, Unmoving Time, – Nevan Contempo, Prague, CZ (curator: Mikulas Nevan) (Group Show) Art Karlsruhe - Michael Schultz Gallery, Berlin, D (curator: Michael Schultz)
2014 (Group Show) Perceptual Hypotheses - MAMŰ Gallery, Budapest, HU (curator: István Zakariás) (Group Show) Art Market Budapest, Zorzini Gallery, Ro (curator: Adina Zorzini)
2013 (Group Show) Budapest Tales, Sheublein Fine Art, Zurich, CH (curator: Georg Bak) (Solo Show) Framing Chronology (with Levente Herman) - Zorzini Gallery, Bucharest, RO (curator: Adina Zorzini) (Group Show) ZONE, MODEM Modern and Contemporary Art Centre, Debrecen, HU (curator: Sándor Hornyik)
2012 (Solo Show) Subshaft - Nest Gallery, Budapest, HU (Group Show) Radiospective/nuclear art - Studio Gallery, Budapest , HU (curator: Endre Paksi Lehel) (Group Show) 47°4’0”NORTH, 22°25’0”EAST - MAMŰ Gallery, Budapest, HU
2011 (Group Show) 30 years old Nest Gallery - Nest Gallery, Budapest, HU (curator: Éva Molnár) (Group Show) Our pictures 2 - GyIM House, Gödöllő, HU (curator: Tamás Szikora)
2010 (Group Show) KOGART Contemporary Collection - KOGART House, Budapest, HU (curator: Péter Fertőszegi) (Group Show) Derkovits Stipends - Ernst Museum, Budapest, HU (curator: Marianna Mayer) (Group Show) PLÉDEN –XIII. Alesd Workshop - MAMŰ Gallery, Budapest, HU
2009 (Group Show) Derkovits stipends” - Ernst Museum, Budapest, HU (curator: Marianna Mayer) 2008 (Solo Show) Swirly Chamber - Dovin Gallery, Budapest, HU (curator: Katalin Délceg) (Group Show) 15 Hungarian and Romanian Painters - Plan B Gallery, Cluj Napoca, RO (curator: Jane Neil) (Group Show) Derkovits Stipends - Ernst Museum, Budapest, HU (curator: Marianna Mayer)
2007 (Solo Show) Nest Gallery, Herman hall, Budapest, HU (curator: Éva Molnár) (Group Show) The Informality of Painting - Ernst Museum, Budapest, HU (curator: Katalin Keserű)
2006 (Solo Show) Moonpassage - Dovin Gallery, Budapest, HU (curator: Katalin Délceg) (Group Show) 10 Years of Strabag Painting Prize - Ludwig Contemporary Art Museum, Budapest, HU
2005 (Solo Show) Museum of Szentendre, Szentendre, HU (Solo Show) Nest Gallery, Budapest, HU (curator: Eva Molnár)
Sandor Szasz tackles social issues with his work. Recollection is decisive for him, a formative force on identity, in the development of personality that consequently shapes the world. His work is a manifestation of his individual memories, in which he incorporates images, objects from both the past as well as the present, creating a surreal vision when placed in a distinct context.
Twilight of Mages (perhaps a metaphor for oblivescence)
János Schneller Art Historian, Curator
Addressing the question whether we see the rays of sunlight tinting the twilight sky, or the flames of a glowing steel mill in the background of Sándor Szász’ large size montages akin to what one would expect from a presentation of paintings. Just as mesmerizing and intriguing as the rest of his recently created smaller paper collages, the ambiguity coupled with an air of mystic is enhanced by juxtaposed titles (and what meaning the hold), (re)defining the scene within them. Occasionally puzzling due to the unconventional atmosphere, the images present a challenge to the viewer on how best to interpret them – Twilight of Mages of sorts.
In as much as a childhood spent in the village of Târgu Mureș within an oppressive atmosphere of the last socialist republic of Romania and the surrounding decay of the country, science-fiction novels and films has equally shaped the imagery in Szász 's works. With the subsequent destruction of that village under the commanded of the then dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu adding a personal historic dimension to his practice. That effect and influence of that event is evident in his earliest paintings which are all imbued with the scientific yet mystical environment of decaying no-man's-land (a metaphor for Bezidu Nou) and akin to a Tarkovskian forbidden Zone. The imagery on those canvas are those populated by faceless working figures in full chemical-warfare gear, who are dwarfed by the abandoned spaceship wreckage, unexploded bombs and deserted spoil tips in what seems like a wasteland. The figures drawing parallels to the Chernobyl liquidators, called upon and put to work not necessary of their free will with their fates sealed as they can no longer return home – now in the land on no return. These early images have clearly informed the motifs, interplay , deconstruction and juxtaposition we see in the large collages in the current exhibition where the artist represents that dystopian world in the form of a surrealist or psychedelic trips.
Sándor Szász’ images in the current exhibition at Kálmán Makláry Fine Arts gallery can be refered to as photo-montages in the classical sense that can be historically and stylistically be traced back to the works of many great figures of Hungarian fine art such as Lajos Vajda, László Moholy-Nagy and Endre Bálint who within the Hungarian art historical context are classed as pioneers - introducing pictured from magazines, newspapers and self-taken photos in their collages. The surrealist imagery depicted in both the paintings and the recent montages conveniently ties the artworks to the point of art history. With that parallel strongly affirmed by the relative proportions and juxtaposed elements on the same plane. A conscious and clever play with intermittent viewpoints and perception of enlarged hybrid creatures. Faceless men dressed in pressure suits are on a rampage within a space filled with greyness, perhaps as a result of the putrid heaps of debris derived from the industrial catastrophe or radiant neon colors of Twilight. Although the forms rise from the realm of Surrealism, the narratives is that of prophecies of a dystopian future, based on events of the present day and recent past.
The montage titled Twilight of Mages (1.5m by 1m, 2020), assembled entirely from magazine photographs – which seem rather anachronistic in an age of visualisation, where image layers are used. However, the application of such a technique gives the works a certain materiality and coherent link to Szász’ paintings.
The irony is not lost with the choice of medium for these works – in this case paper exposed to the laws of decay ( easily prone to age and rot) and that of decay and failings in a past system that continues to inform the artist practice – raw material of sorts. All glued together and governed by the principle of disintegration and incoherence as well as conscious structuring - in equal measures. Looking at the final imagery from these sliced magazine pages and loose photographic albums, it easy for one's thoughts and imagination to race ahead of a crumbling civilisation but at odd with our perceived state of world affairs. Perhaps, it is only a metaphor by the artist for what might lay ahead.
On closer analysis of the unusually large-scale work 'Twilight of Mages' - the eponym of the exhibition, the sight of half-built, unfinished bridge parts and sheer scale is reminiscent of gigantic construction site. And the sources of natural and artificial light, glowing at the base of reinforced concrete pillars that rest on top of boulders, seem just as inseparable as the vestiges of human activity and the formations of the natural environment depicted in the scene. In this regard, parallels can be drawn with Pieter Bruegel Elder`s painting 'The Tower of Babel‘ - a skyscraper erected on stone foundation. The parallel is further strengthened by the fact that although the hoists and elevators seem to be functional and operational state, the construction is left unfinished on either sides. Why is that so? And who inhibits an unfinished construction? According to the Biblical myth, this dangerous overconfidence and arrogance resulted in divine retribution - oblivescence, collapse of communication and civilisation.
Isaac Asimov’s science fiction book series trilogy Foundation, which also informs the imagery we see in Szász’s wprk, oblivescence is not a consequence of divine retribution but that of population. And serves as a central metaphor coloured with cinematic references. In the series, we are presented with Galactic Empire that begin to decline due to forgotten technical know-how and having to relocate to the periphery of the galaxy, with only a handful of scientists to protect, foster and transfer technical knowledge. Within a couple of generations, the scientists receiving education from the Foundation's universities are honored as mages by peoples of the Empire who had relapsed into barbarism. Later, with the help of the Foundation`s traders, science is once again restored as a religion within all territories of the disunited empire. As a result of this, the predicted prolonged crisis by the First Minister and psychohistory Hari Seldon is averted.
The red hooded figures in the foreground of the Twilight of Mages, who seem turn their backs on the viewer, can be interpreted as the scientists of the Asimovian Foundation - keepers of forgotten knowledge, which is unattainable by the inhabitants of the declining civilization (also see: Jedi Knights or the monasteries of the Early Middle Ages). This is an interpretation reinforced by the green lane, proliferating around the figures, which acts like an oasis amid the decaying environment. And to counter the process of decline - standing as the visual metaphor for the foster of knowledge and culture.
Almost all the montages in this show relate to imagery of disintegration, decay and the process of forgetting. We need only think of the recurring headless figures (we forget who they are or rather their identity is of no relevance), corroded machinery, once in great functioning capacity but now forgotten (disintegration) or the recurring symbol of the Atomium - a construction erected for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair which has become the symbol of science-based development and progression. This iconic construction incongruously looms over the horizon as a dilapidated grand monument serves as an allegory to a now lost civilization (decay).
One can easily draw parallels between the imagery in Szász 's works and the latest Covid-19 global pandemic resulting in a paradigm-shift towards a universal form of progressive civilization. As the works seem to call on the viewer to recognise the inevitability of looming environmental and societal catastrophes such as climate change, social inequalities and cultural conflicts.
Although there are common strands in collages created in the fall of 2019 and those created in the spring of 2020 through their composition, color and mood, the later is much lighter in mood, leaning more towards irony and direct references to fine art, cinema, architecture and even quotes. The feeling of lightness is enhanced by the richer hues, familiar environments and perception of the horizontal plane defined by the sky and land. On the hand, earlier collages depict imagery derived from an altered state of consciousness (psychedelic trips).
One might call this imagery the Mannerism of the new millennium in relation to its predecessor of the 16th century in an era of transformation - never taking place without crises. One question remains...when is the catharsis due?