Three Moons-or a New Lunar Meeting
Kopasz Tamás’s Exhibition
November 6- November 23, 1998
A poetic name for an exhibition. A few uncomprehending spectators, wary of this new name, bombard the artist with their suspicious questions concerning the title’s relation to the exhibition. Perhaps they felt that this name further distanced them from the artworks on display. To me they- the works- were like fragments of a haiku, which can stand on their own, exist in themselves only. Hans Arp, on his poem entitled „The Great Lunar Meeting”, has the following to say: „To formulate the invisible means that we are coming closer to creation. I hope that in my poem, the „Lunar Meeting”, I have succeeded grasping a little of that unseen.” And it would also be a sin to leave out a selection which seems to fit in so perfectly here. „Two-headed moons and moons, the belly buttons of which are massive explosions and whatever words that rhyme with this, such as, kopasz (bold), garázs (garage), dudás (piper), and Tamás. Surely the lunar travelers, moon-dreamers like myself are present at the lunar meeting.” (Originally translated into Hungarian by Hajnal Gábor)
Tamás made it possible to address the invisible through rusty irons. Hence showing that we can sublimate everything into ethereal signs. In fine arts we should not, and in fact. we cannot reach the outer-most limits of the material, because the material is an information carrier, it is the one and only possible medium (of communication). Tamás’s works are not mere abstractions made into objects, but rather they are signs of the senses. Fifteen compact, dense haikus
Even if the word (or name) „Tamás” appears only in the translation, the „two-headed moons” have some connection to the exhibition; because they are about the exhibition. Some of you may think that I am pressing the poetic aspect of this exhibition over the limit, but really, I have known about Tamás’s affinity to poetry for a long time now. I clearly remember the early ‘8Os, those good old college years, when we used to sit there in the „tatter” or the „pit” sipping our drinks. Then, there Tamás would pull out from his pocket a volume of verses by Rimbaud or Mallarmé. He occasionally showed us writings of his own too. Of course, much has been blurred by the saint fumes of Hubertus, and maybe even the word „sipping” should be put in quotation marks. Other than painting and music, Tamás experimented with automatic writing as well. However, when his emotions and passions could no longer be expressed in words, when their realistic meanings became hazed, he decided to give up writing.
Sometimes one may find fragments of these writings along with pieces of photos on a few pictures comprising the series entitled Complaints of the Bride. He took a step further, towards the absolutely indefinable.
His works are most often brought in connection with the activities of the Actionists in Vienna. There was a short period of time when his works resembled Adolf Frohner’s or Otto Mühl’s pictures. The irrationalism and fractured character of the Love-Pictures suggests that a state of conflict was what remained on the picture after the work of the destructive energy. For the Actionists of Vienna, the insultation of the pictures and the orgiastic „ritual-prints” meant the „creative procedure”. The deep structures of our instincts are uncontrollable. The Actionists of Vienna, in order to find the way to the artistic element, renounced the state of unconsciousness; the unsolvability of the formal problems and the difficulties of expression pressed them towards controlled and planned actions. The ideas of Hermann Nitsch, that painting should be „chased” towards „sado-masochistic conditions” and that they should be given „ a democratic function”, reflect everything except what you would call „Dionysian unconsciousness”.
It is dangerous to reach the orphic foundations and the road leading there is unknown. I have tried to write about this unknown road, precisely in connection with Tamás’s works. „His pictures are already a sequence of internal voices, sighs, grows, screams,...the pictures have reached a depth of preverbalism.” According to various philosophies of the Orient, this is the state of existence prior to the development of our personality; a state similar to this one can bring about enlightenment, however this road may also lead us nowhere, to „nothingness”, where, except for the convulsions of nerves, nothing is there.
Passion and self-examination led Kopasz Tamás to the well of instincts; but descending down this well carries with it danger. The well is bottomless and we have to be satisfied with merely hearing its echoes. Let us stay near the well-curb, let us remain as sensitive membranes; and even by so doing, we may still suspect a lot from the internal infinitude.”
Upon closely examining Tamás’s working practices, it may be asserted that he does not content himself with spontaneic, motorical gestures. The complexity of the techniques he uses- burning (scorching), scratching (scraping), oxidizing, applying...etc. endows his gestures with a different kind of intensity. Spontaneity for him became part of a controlled extending procedure. At the sacrifice of smaller adventures he always stepped beyond the irrationalistic aspirations. He stepped beyond the forced apology of subjectivism, which was so characteristic of abstract expressionism- where the picture is the scene of a tragic action, or where it is itself, a self-absorbing, negatively abstract Self-sacrifice.
Partly for its lyric will - Pollock’s „dripped” pictures rather characterize his works in their laminose entanglement and mythicizing surrealistic automatism. The Woman is also present in his works- whether hidden from us intentionally or not- nevertheless, She forms the mythical basis of the picture. Tamás first transforms the surface of the picture by shattering and corroding it (destroying it)- into a chaotic mass, so that he could, later on, refine this savage appearance. He raises the form from an uncertain, liquid state.
In the field of Ornamental Works he built patterns bearing universal meanings. His relation to archaism is of substantial nature. His pictures are laden with symbols, poetical images, which are exempt from individualism and which express one common mythical desire. Tradition here appears as profound consciousness and not as the mere adoption of certain forms and contents.
After the shields, the gesture(s) also increased and intensified in his works. Every painting is an anatomy of the moment- Tamás wants to prove this exceptional sensitivity towards the lyric tones with „the least” in his works. However, due to the subdued (oppressed) world of colors the pictures display, we can still feel a certain unpleasant and existentialist allusion in them.
The artworks exhibited in the MAMÜ cellar-gallery are a direct continuation- we could even say: synthesis- of Tamás’s earlier works. In his works the mythological projections disappear forever, but with the names (titles) he gives them he opens a way for his works leading to a new, more poetic medium. Birds, Gull, Night, Three Moons, Iron Shield, Altamira- all of these names suggest an archaic world, and yet the abstract character of these works leads us rather into a realm of floating uncertainty. Tamás, by means of plastic formulation reached the metaphorical sign. The robust iron plates turned altogether light. The impression they make is as if they were calligraphic signs written on air.