Steel-existence | The Sculptures of Áron Zsolt Majoros
Áron Zsolt Majoros received various art awards at a very young age but the Junior Prima Award, which is the ‘youth version’ of the Prima Primissima Award, first bestowed in the fine arts category in 2008, stands out among them. The prestigious recognition clearly shows how early his talent was noticed by professional circles and the art-loving public. Back then he worked mostly with wood and his compositions had a strong conceptual tendency combined with the excellent craftsmanship he mastered in Pál Kő’s class. His diploma project Man (2008) is a split log reminiscent of the wooden coffins of ancient Egyptian mummies with the negative of his own full-body portrait carved into it. “It was my intention - he later said - to make an intimate sculpture but I ended up making a secret-sculpture because I closed the log back. Thus, the intimacy hidden inside was not visible.”1 Although a concept rich in ideas was realised, the artist was still not fully satisfied with the result. Through the crevices of the hu-man-shaped coffin one could sense the ‘absent body’ inside but grasping the work’s compre-hensive semantic layers required too much verbal explanation because the visual essence re-mained hidden from the viewer. Thought experiments like this and similar other ones led Majoros to increasingly work with metal instead of wood. “By using steel I am able to achieve a reticulated quality that allows the viewer’s eyes to reach behind the surface, into intimacy, without the sculpture being an act of total revelation,” he said.2
The concepts closely attached to his works from the beginning – body, skin, shell, cradle, coffin, inclusion, self-revelation – which are ultimately the framework of human existence – the concepts of birth, life, soul and death – continue in his later works too and, being built of steel, are lent a much clearer and lasting form marked by greater plasticity and – I dare say – higher aesthetic quality. Majoros tried his hand at using mesh for his sculpture (Skin, 2008) but he first found a promising solution in pixel-like surfaces built using small steel discs. The nudes of classical beauty assembled in this way are heavy in their material but in reality they suggest an airy lightness. This is especially true for his sculptures that strive upwards and are open from the back, such as the pieces of his Levitation series, where the ‘dispersing’ disks evoke the association of being dissolved in light. These idealised female figures without individual facial features (thus impersonal) acquire a completely different meaning as soon as the artist brings them into contact with ordinary objects. The nude in Dispersion (2016) is shown with a vacuum cleaner and the one in Collection (2017) with a refrigerator. The tension in the content – a naked woman with a supermodel’s figure and the profane notion of a woman doing housework – is obvious at first glance but this primary message is taken further, to an even deeper content, when we realise that the female figure of the first sculpture is vacuuming up the pieces of her own components that fell on the ground, while the latter nude leaning on a refrigerator is starting to break down into fridge magnets. Thus, the viewer is taken from the stereotypical juxtaposition of women’s roles to the notions of existence, nonexistence, and the essence of existence.
Discs were then replaced by slices. It can be said with no exaggeration that sculptures made using the new method are Majoros’ signature works and this technique is his trademark.3 The slices in the early compositions represented a kind of frame into which a body was placed as if in a bed, as an impression (Soulframe; Soulholder I–II, 2013–2014). Later full-figure sculptures, busts and torsos made of horizontal and vertical sections also appeared in positive form. For the human eye to assemble the forms composed of sequences of lines and absences into a comprehensible image, it must supplement it much more than it did in the case of the pixel sculptures. But the human brain is able to do this without a problem, just as it can perceive the alternation of sound and silence with a certain density as a continuous melody.
This new method lent Majoros’ works a new interpretative dimension, especially in the case of sculptures made with vertical sections. The works seem solid from the side but on approaching the frontal perspective, when we start seeing through the gaps, they gradually become transparent. They almost disappear from the viewer’s eyes. The human figures thus shift from material to immaterial, from body to soul, and vice versa, as we pass by or just move in front of the statues. This sense of transcendence is only enhanced by the floating, vibrating moiré effect, which the dense steel ribbing generates akin to fabric. Just like in the case of his pixel sculptures, Majoros has found a way of bringing this ethereal levitation back to earth by adding red boxing gloves (Boxer, 2018) or a life jacket (Jacketed, 2020) to his nudes. The closed composition of his typically horizontally striped crouching, bending-over and prostrate figures is fundamentally built on the duality of gravity and contemplation. Some postures and torsos evoke Hellenism and others Egyptian cube sculptures: these reminiscences lend expression to the timelessness of art.
While the steel works made from sections enjoy huge popularity, they are not the only product of Majoros’ love of experimentation. His landscapes composed using steel saws, his murals made of wood, his projected installations, his series printed on hand-made paper and his open-air sculptures all exemplify the wide range of potential directions in which he can take his art.
Zoltán Rockenbauer, curator of the exhibition
(1) Béla Tallósi: Acélélek hálójában. (Beszélgetés Majoros Áronnal) [In the Web of Steel Edges (In Conversation with Áron Majoros)]. In: Új Szó, 23 July 2016. 16.
(3) For international analogies, see: Judit Szeifert: Majoros Áron Zsolt [Áron Zsolt Majoros]. Budapest, Hermész NMKE, 2021. 68–71.
Áron Zsolt Majoros
He lives in Budakalász but mainly works in Budapest.
He began his art studies at the stone sculpting department of the vocational School of Building and Decorative Arts in Budapest, and after his school-leaving exams he attended the department of sculpting at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, where his master was Pál Kő. He graduated in 2008. In the same year he won the Junior Prima Award. Initially he mainly worked with wood but soon switched to metal, although not exclusively. As a figurative artist his main subject is the human body. His nudes, distinguished by classical lines and built using disks or steel sections, exude calmness and bear meditative meaning rich in ideas. He also makes video installations, metal and wooden murals as well as prints. He has been regularly exhibiting his works from the start of his career, participating in group, thematic and solo exhibitions from Budapest to London, and from Vienna to India. Every year he actively participates in the work of artists’ colonies in Hungary and abroad. His sculptures can be found in domestic and international private and public collections in Europe, Asia and America. His open-air works can be seen in Budapest, Csömör and Mosonmagyaróvár. He is represented by two Hungarian, a Slovakian, a Dutch and an Indian gallery.