Quadro Gallery, Cluj: A Retrospective

LÁSZLÓ TÓTH

A Retrospective, August the 18th – October the 10th, 2014

Opening: Monday, 18th of August, 6 p.m.

Presenting: György Szücs art historian, Deputy Director at the Hungarian National Gallery (Budapest)

The Quadro Gallery organizes the first retrospective exhibition of László Tóth, presenting the whole oeuvre in its full richness, beginning with the early oil paintings of the 1960’s and 1970’s, through the compositions, portraits and nudes made in mixted technique, until the late years of the artist, spent in Germany.

Works are lent by the artistʼs estate, private collections and the Cluj-Napoca Art Museum.

 László TÓTH (Satu Mare, July the 13th, 1933 – Wertingen, December the 24th, 2009)

Studies painting at the Cluj Ion Andreescu Institute for Fine Arts, between the years 1951-1957. In 1955, he marries Ilona Szűcs, herself a painter. His illustrations are published in a series of literary reviews and books. In the period 1965-1971, he is a set-painter at the Hungarian State Theatre in Cluj. In 1971, he becomes a professor at the Cluj Ion Andreescu Institute for Fine Arts, and in 1983 he is named head of the Painting Department. Together with his wife, in 1984 they move to the German Federal Republic. After a short period spent as a set-designer, he lived as a self-employed painter. He had personal exhibitions in Augsburg, Budapest, Cluj, Munich, Szentendre (here, in 1991, works by his wife deceased in 1990 were also exhibited), Wertingen.

In these parts of East-Central Europe, during a release of ideological pressure in the nineteen-sixties, surrealism appears as a possible option for figurative arts. Under these “realistic appearances” our artist hid implicit or quite overt critiques of the political regime and bitter notes on the Eastern European way of life, while the formal language drawn to abstract perspectives seems to be the most organic accessory of the message behind these works.

Beside surrealism, the artistic mindset of László Tóth was shaped by his meeting with the theatre of the absurd. Far from being surreal visions of dreamy landscapes, his paintings are fragmentary constructions of a recognizable reality, populated by human shapes and landscapes used as elements of a Lego game. László Tóth turns his meditations upon life into the formal metaphor of the makeshift, as makeshift entities still carry the traces of the original Order, without being capable of containing its reason, of recreating it or taking it further.

In his works human figures are being almost disfigured by a willingly erroneous composition, instead of anatomical elements, under the skin we seem to discover mechanical structures, as if the limbs and organs would live their own, separate life according to an absurd logic, denying any possibility for World and Being to create an organic, reasonable whole.

Speaking of the late paintings, created after 2000, the artist characterizes his entire creation: „My works enrich, with certain surrealistic elements, a very down-to-earth message matured by the duality of reason and sentiment, while they even invest it with a tragic quality.

This is why the human figure is essential for my creative art and this is why the aged face is at the center of my attention, inspiring me with its numberless layers like those of historical documents.”

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