László F. Földényi
About Attila Szucs’s pictures
Bubbles, one might think looking at Attila Szucs’s latest pictures. Bubbles appear on his canvasses, sometimes as dark spots swirling like fog, sometimes as regularly shaped objects. And within, like a multitude of microcosms, we can see scenes, situations, people, objects, plants or animals.
Nevertheless, when I keep watching these strange sights resembling of smoke or mirages, which appear in an environment that does not refer to any time or space - they could be deep under the dimly lit see or in space beyond gravity -, I start to see them as shadows rather than bubbles. Shadows that do not indicate where the light might be coming from. The shadow-like sights independent of light and detached of matter dominate the pictures. Having gained a separate existence they roam the dimly luminous, almost monochrome fields of colour. They are not exposed to either space or time. They could be pods launched into outer space. Torn off everything, they represent the small world which they have enclosed within themselves - or which has committed itself to their care. Sometimes a lonely woman. Sometimes a waiting child. Sometimes a piece of furniture. Sometimes an animal. Sometimes a landscape. Sometimes women. And so forth. Knowing Attila Szucs’s painting up till now these bubbles or shadows could enclose anything. The world itself has become shadow-like in his pictures.
In theory, a shadow can never be independent of matter and light. Nevertheless, it still warns us of the absence of light, and of course of the lack of matter. It is perceivable but at the same time elusive. When I am looking at the shadow I can not see what is casting it but I can see something that hardly exists at all. Shadows show something but obscure that something as well.
This is the reason why I see the world unfolding in Attila Szucs’s paintings shadow-like. This is what makes the scenes and situations that he paints so dream-like. However, this world is very much awake. Actually, it balances between dreams and wakefulness. Each of the paintings suggests that it is a snatched moment of a non-reconstructible, therefore enigmatic story - a still frame from a moving sequence of sights. The never ending moment frozen in eternal present time is displayed in the pictures, which have neither preludes nor postludes. The people, the objects, the animals, the landscapes, the houses, the plants are the shadows of the universal detachment cast upon them. They keep referring to something beyond themselves. It would be quite difficult to say exactly what they refer to. ‘My whole life is constant homesickness’, Gustav Mahler wrote in a letter. I could easily imagine this line as a motto under Attila Szucs’s pictures.
Critics tend to mention the photographic effect of Attila Szucs’s pictures. Let me add something to that. At the beginning of the 1890s in Paris a certain Doctor Baraduc got children to stand in front of the cameras and kept them waiting there. When the waiting became more and more gruesome and the children could hardly stand the tension he took the picture. The result was a curious sight: on the developed photos the images of the children were covered with strange lights. Baraduc’s experiments got more complicated and his attention was drawn to recording the invisible beams of energy streaming from living beings. He called his pictures the images of the soul - blending the words psyche and icon: psychon -, and his contemporaries recognized the auras of models on these photos.
What is the aura? An invisible field of force where the past and the future merge in the present. Baraduc even pressed the sensitive plates against the bodies of his models then, being a psychiatrist, based on the developed photograph he drew mostly correct conclusions on their mental states and the dynamics of their illnesses. What you can see with your eyes - the body, the matter - will only tell you something about the current situation. What you can not see - the aura - includes the past and future, the fullness of time.
If Attila Szucs’s painting can be compared to photography then I would like to call everyone’s attention to the strange radiation in each of the pictures that, I believe, is akin to auras. I called bubbles shadows above. If I think of these shadows not as the manifestation of material existence, but not the manifestation of something completely immaterial, either, I can even see them as auras. And I may not be far from the truth when I call Szucs’s painting auratic. This is what provides the inner radiation that dignifies every picture: you can never decide whether there is a definite source of light, and if there is where it might be. This light mostly comes from within, from inside the appearing child, woman, animal or object embracing it like a bubble. But this very same auratic approach is responsible for the fact that whatever Attila Szucs paints simply cannot be placed in either place or time. At the same time - if I can repeat myself now - the paintings still refer to place and time by evoking the lack of these almost heartbreakingly. The auraticness of these pictures also ensures that Szucs can represent impalpability while confronting the viewer with very concrete sights. The figures in the paintings stand on no man’s land between sleep and awakening. The pictures themselves are on an other no man’s land between realistic, figurative and non-figurative abstract representation. Objects, figures and concrete sights are close to being dissolved in total abstraction; but if I concentrate on the impalpable, dream-like blurring I am faced with objects, fragments of stories - sights that are very much concrete.
And at that point I do not see only the pieces of a peculiar, very unique painting in this space but also an indirect commentary on the situation of contemporary painting, which gets more and more entangled into objectivity while its major goal is to put everything between quotation marks. Attila Szucs has defined new horizons for objective painting and for years now this is what he has been keeping his eyes on. And his auratic way of representation also calls the public’s attention to the chances of art itself. Among other things the fact that what Walter Benjamin, the German theoretician thought had been lost from modern art - namely, the aura - can be easily conjured and recreated by practising artists. Attila Szucs is one of these artists and his exhibition may be viewed as a proposal to resurrect the aura.