Kisterem / BUDAPEST (Hungary)
17.01.2018 – 16.02.2018

It is best to treat the works of Katalin Káldi together as a whole, without dividing them up according to genre, for this enables their medium-independent, conceptual nature to emerge most clearly. Although the forceful red and yellow palette of her latest paintings marks a striking departure from her previous, more placid canvases, the emphasis remains on the sense of order that characterises all of her works, and on the interrelationship between the different elements. This sense of order, however, is now augmented with an important new aspect: spirited dynamism. The quiet, still-life-like repose of her older works and the static arrangement of the objects within them offered a kind of “model” of the artist’s desire for order. In a similar way, the works currently on display can be described as placing homogeneous forms or items over a uniform base plane. One important difference, however, is that through their dynamism, these pictures seem not only to exude order, but also to express a deliberate intent.
To gain a better understanding of the artistic intent behind these paintings, it is worthwhile taking a sideward look at pieces executed during the intervening transitional period, which bear the working title of “colour studies”. With regard to the colours arranged into radiating bands, on show in the first, original room of Kisterem Gallery, it is not so much a question of the classical meaning of colour studies, but rather a reckoning or listing of the colours that Káldi has been using in recent times. The flag-like surfaces, shown head-on with no pictorial depth, concentrate in every instance on a single point. These stylistically atypical pieces represent a synthesis of fundamental concepts of colour and geometry that continues to exert a decisive influence.
In her latest works, these basic properties – colours and points – now unfurl in specific directions and in larger fields of colour. The powerful dynamism projected by the yellow regular three-dimensional bodies engenders a feeling of intentionality. The paintings have transformed the space they occupy from contemplative still lifes to active fields of imagery. The momentum of the shapes leads us to associate the cylinders with bullets and the swirls of interconnected circles with some kind of energy or radiation. The lively and active character of the works is also underlined by the title of the exhibition, Heat. Heat radiates, spreads and imposes its effect, just like the latent energy within the diagrammatic motifs that prise open the plane of the works.
The “modelling” referred to above plays an important role in Káldi’s creative practice, for in general her work is based on mock-ups or scale models. Everyday objects depicted in perfect proportion have recently given way to geometric bodies; whilst maintaining their original ratios, they can be enlarged at will, without their identities being altered in any way.
The mock-ups are a determining factor not only in Káldi’s paintings, but also in her photos. Her artistic practice, whose reputation rests primarily on her paintings, has been accompanied from the very start by photography, which has gained increasing prominence in recent years. The objects and models visible in her oil paintings can often be recognised in her photographs as well. Besides the links connecting the photographs and the canvases, her simplified plaster casts also prompt a reconsideration of the relationship between the mock-up and the finished work, and lead to renewed questioning of the status of the autonomous artwork.
As is customary with Káldi, alongside the rule implied by the sense of order, the exception to this rule is also always given an emphatic role. Works that differ from the others in terms of medium and scale, while remaining identical – or at least similar – in form, perform the important function of interrupting the overall orderliness of the exhibition, which is determined by the paintings. Regardless of the medium she uses, the artist’s fundamental premise – namely, the need to create order – holds true in every case, and can be seen in the different clusters and alignments of points and edges in each individual work. Thanks to the diversity of genre, however, the logic that creates equilibrium between the rule and the exception is in evidence not only in the tension of the works but across the exhibition as a whole.

“By creating order we may succeed in overcoming chaos and incomprehension, and through the construction of a little mock-up model, we may at least be lulled into such an illusion. Nevertheless, regular structures and regularity can only become interesting and mysterious if done approximately, for the perfectly regular is monotonous, boring and dumb. The structure should therefore also be a little disquieting, slightly outside the comfort zone.”
Katalin Káldi (1)

Fanni Magyar

(1) in.: Katalin Káldi: A számos és a számtalan. Az ismétlés, egynemű elemek többszöri alkalmazása egy műalkotáson belül (The numerous and the innumerable. Repetition and the multiple use of singular elements within a single work of art), DLA dissertation, Hungarian University of Fine Arts, 2013

Courtesy of the artist and Kisterem
Photo credit Miklós Sulyok