Artist: Botond Keresztesi
Exhibition title: N.S.A. – National Sun Association
Curated by: Áron Fenyvesi
Venue: Horizont Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
Date: April 5 – May 3, 2017
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Horizont Gallery
Horizont Gallery hosts Botond Keresztesi’s second solo exhibition entitled N.S.A. – National Sun Association. The Romanian-born artist, a recipient of the Derkovits scolarship, organicly continues his very iconic painting program as he carefully preserved his signature-like painting style from his first solo exhibiton RGB – Roman, Gothic, Baroque in Horizont Gallery. However, at his second exhibition Keresztesi‘s new series of paintings are more complexly interrelated and his images are more closely binded by a much more strict frame of iconography.
The painting of Keresztesi has an obviously strong figurative base, although it can’t be characterised as photo-realist. Keresztesi is mostly inspired by a graphical style, which highlights posters, advertisments, album covers, or stock photos used by the creative industry. These graphical influences, with a lot of visual humour and surrealist elements, are mixed up in the paintings of the artist.
In the iconographic epicentre of the N.S.A. exhibition we find solariums and statues; to be even more enigmatic statues who are in solariums. On the canvases of Keresztesi iconic objects of petit-bourgeois consumerism merge with landmarks of the history of art. The latter are drawn from a very wide pool as Keresztesi’s painting incorporates metaphysicly minimalist Magritte and de Chirico quotes, which get mixed up with trecento landscapes or Manet motifs. But among the sculptural figures we can also find antique statues, Henry Moore and Brancusi works as well.
On the occasion of his N.S.A. exhibiton, Keresztesi creates object-portraits, which are coordinated as small parts of a mental collage, appearing in a homogenously painted space of the canvases. The painterly interest of Keresztesi often navigates him to such iconic tools and objects as the solarium – a status symbol and a cultural sign as well. The solarium as an obejct, on the other hand, bears many seemingly unfunctional design parts, wild fluorescent colors, and unnecessarily aerodynamic materials.
Keresztesi creates a seemingly timeless pictorial space, where many historical epochs interact with each other constructing a very unrealistcly absurd space on the canvases. Maybe the artist’s favourite references are pop-culture quotes from the 80s and 90s, as he uses numerous ironic allusions from the visuality of these decades. Keresztesi is always transgressing contexts with his flmaboyant use of motifs smuggling the hypnotic visuality of corporate logo culture, advertisment and brands into art history. Keresztesi, with the irrational linking of his images, tends always to be very humorous and absurd. Although elements of the present or reality remain identifiable on his paintings, the context of these is also always very paradox. The ambigousness of the images of Keresztesi bears traces of the post-truth present as well. He uses and twists the mosaic name of National Security Agency in the exhibition title.
A new feature of Keresztesi’s painting is the extended use of the airbrush technique, which wasn’t typical of his previous works. The painting language of Keresztesi, beside his technical experimentation, is unique and exceptional in the Hugnarian art scene. We cannot find a paralell position which would aim to overcome the traditions of Hungarian photo-realist painting and the timeless aspect of asbtraction in such a unique way as Keresztesi does.