Work of Art in Focus – March 2022
Pesti Vigadó's choice of the Work of Art in Focus for the month of March is made even more actual by the current war situation in the Ukraine. It is sincerely hoped that this saddening actuality of the artwork will pass soon, and that there will be peace in the Ukraine in the very near future.
When literary historian Eszter Draskóczy analysed József Szurcsik's painting entitled "Three Houses" at the opening of the exhibition, she highlighted the following: "the artwork portrays the destruction of the war and it also depicts burnt-down houses and churches in the context of a peaceful landscape with apparent lack of human presence. We can see three houses burning: they look alike, and while burning they are emitting similar billowing smoke. The title of the artwork conjures up a concept of Biblical origin, which is quite widespread in Early Christian and Medieval literatures: the house represents the otherworldly home of the soul, which home can be a ‘home brightly lit by light' or a home for the damned, where an executioner is killing those who arrive. In József Szurcsik's artwork, there is no difference between the houses of the good and the evil: the beholder sees the reflection of only one scene rather than that of a world with three different scenes. The river might as well be the River Lethe from Greek mythology. But the river does not offer the same gloomy images on both sides: a regular scenario would otherwise allow the soul to forget its sins. Instead, there is only one scene in the image and this conveys the message that the ravages produced by evil human deeds are indelible."
József Szurcsik: Three Houses, 2019, acrylic and oil on canvas; 185 × 200 cm
Munkácsy Award winning graphic artist József Szurcsik (1959) is Full Member of the Hungarian Academy of Arts. After completing his studies in reproductive graphics, he graduated from the Hungarian College of Fine Arts in 1985. His artworks regularly feature at exhibitions and symposia both in Hungary and abroad ranging from Mexico to Japan. His solo exhibitions have been showcased at numerous places from Sofia through Helsinki to New York. Since 2015 he has been the head of the Graphics Department at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, and since 2021 he has been the Vice-rector of the same University.
"Through his artwork József Szurcsik is engaged in questions of man and his surrounding world, the individual and society, as well as the individual and his inner world... His works discussing social issues of the 1990s and the political manifestations of those in power in the same period are followed, from 2000 onwards, by artworks describing inner struggles of the individual. He often portrays the following themes: the self trying to find its own place, earthly hell, man being a wolf to another man... The unique topic of József Szurcsik's latest works is mystical landscapes with heavenly signs directly or mysteriously conjuring up the image and mood of an ‘end of the world' scenario".
(excerpt from the exhibition catalogue)
The artwork of the month of March is on display in the exhibition Whose inferno is Dante's Inferno? until 24 April 2022 in the exhibition space on the 5th floor of the Pesti Vigadó.