Ernst Museum, a part of the Műcsarnok family, specializes in, among other things, the solo exhibitions of the current middle generation of artists. Following the recent shows of András Gál, Szabolcs KissPál and Péter Forgács, the gallery now opens for Gyula Várnai to stage a solo display.
It is not a retrospective or synoptic exhibit that this outstanding representative of Hungarian neo-conceptualism offers. While it focuses on new pieces, the exhibition also delves into plans or sketches that represent important ideas but have remained unrealized for want of adequate spaces or because of the (space) specificity of the installation.
The starting point for Várnai’s investigations, which he carries out in diverse media, is usually a very simple, everyday situation or thing. His objects and images (projections) are characterized by a reduced set of tools, a simple layout, pairing and omission. His installations and object-collages tend to consist of various objects of use. His assemblages are marked by a conceptual and poetic quality, and an air of meticulous DIY. The creation and destruction of illusion, and the mutual references between signs, texts and objects, are also hallmarks of his activity.
Several of his works centre on some physical phenomenon, and are charged with philosophy and humour. The viewer often becomes an element in the piece when it is her movement in space that produces a conjunction or an image. Várnai often deals with epistemological problems, the possibility of understanding the world is one of the fundamental issues that his works grapple with. His is an aesthetic of refuse, of the recycling of objects and situations found.
“What Várnai’s works bear evidence to is the obvious conjunction of objects, the almost effortless ability of phenomena, concepts, ideas and moods to be transposed into things.” (Gábor Andrási)
The last substantial discussion of Várnai’s work was published fifteen years ago. The present exhibition is to be accompanied by a lavish, comprehensive oeuvre catalogue, in Hungarian and English, with original essays by Sándor Hornyik, József Mélyi and László Százados, as well as writings from the artist’s earlier catalogues, by Gábor Andrási, Edit Sasvári and Tibor Várnagy.
The catalogue publication is supported by acb Contemporary Art Gallery.