Although they are almost of the same age, both of them being been born in the first half of the 1940s, the painter Géza Németh and the ceramic sculptor Levente Thury, who are the two featured artists of the exhibition held in the ART-EAST Gallery of BalatonfÃ¼red, seem to represent two different generations in contemporary Hungarian art. Levente Thuryâ€™s works have been on display at various exhibitions since the turn of the 1960s and 1970s â€“ the artist graduated from the Budapest College of Applied Arts; by contrast, the publicâ€™s first chance to see Géza Némethâ€™s compositions came only in the 1980s: it was after a number of detours, such taking a degree in architecture, for example, that the latter artist stepped into the public arena with his paintings.
The shared element in the two careers, one that came to acquire curious significance, is the recurrence of creative spells spent in the United States: during their respective stays in the United States, both Géza Németh and Levente Thury produced important collections, which they were then able to show to the American public in exhibitions held in the galleries and museums of major American cities. The element of travel experience meant a strong inspiration in the art of both artists; and recently the two of them had a joint exhibition across the Atlantic. On home turf, Levente Thury made quite a stir in professional circles with his 1992 exhibition in VigaÂdó Gallery; as for Géza Németh, he had a comprehensive one-man show in Ãšjpest Gallery just a few months ago. The present exhibition is their first joint public show in Hungary, offering the public a chance to see a selection of the works the two artists have created in the last few years. As even observers unfamiliar with the preliminary history and the circumstances will confirm it, this exhibition presents two independent artistic profiles and aspirations. Their friendship seems to be the only explanations for the two artistsâ€™ joint venture; other than that, the only sign of identification between them seems to be a kindred spirit, which is manifested in the complex system of relations between the new reality presented by the artworks and the â€žrealâ€ reality. One could say that the elements of reality can be discovered both in the small plastics and in the paintings â€“ as motifs of mythical character in the former case, and as fragmented reminiscences lost in the haze of memories in the latter case â€“ but the methods of presentation, of artistic rendering, are different, with the modes of expressions being similarly divergent.
By now, Levente Thury has come a long way from traditional ceramics; he has also transcended the conventions of ceramic sculpture: the baked and vitrified clay constitutes just one component of his collages of associative inspiration, and not even the most important one at that. Ever since the 1980s, the thematic circle of the legendary Golem has provided the inspiration for a number of Thuryâ€™s compositions â€“ from an army of tiny Golems measuring less than a couple of inches, he moved on to create proper-sized ones â€“ with the result that a new myth seems to have emerged from the attractively ugly faces of repugnant beauty, which show up in the artistâ€™s compositions as puzzling associations.
By contrast, Géza Németh uses a traditional technique with a centuries-long history: painting on stretched canvas, he mainly relies on the power of colors, the basic tone of which changes back and forth between vivid hues and subdued grays, blues and greens. His paintings abound in motifs that are balancing on the tin line between abstraction and realistic representation: birds and other animals, objects and human figures, all have the same fragile links both to the world of real forms and to the assembly of sovereign artistic symbols and signs of considerable abstraction. It is as if hidden, sweeping emotions were boiling in the background of forms â€“ and then, all of a sudden everything returns to normal, as far as visual conventions are concerned: the interplay between identities and unknown elements creates a tension in Géza Némethâ€™s canvases, causing a certain amount of confusion in the audienceâ€™s reception.
And if we were still determined to discover the common denominator between these two artistic worlds motivated by opposing artistic intentions, then I guess we would have to name, or emphasize, the meditative attitude that these two artists share: a reflective mood, the avoidance of forthright declarations, an artistic rendering based on conjectures, uncertain existential states of mind, a resigned acceptance of the fact that nothing can be taken for granted, cautious intuitions and a quiet and sad acquiescence. It is in dedication to these moods and intuitions that we commend the BalatonfÃ¼red exhibition of the painter Géza Németh and the ceramic artist Levente Thury to the attention of the visitors.