Imre Tolnay

Messages from the inner city

Mayer Éva: Soulspaces exhibition


Upon entering the bright spaces of a gallery on a sunny spring day, however much you would like to face only the pictures, there unfolds on the glass protecting the prints that have been carefully and with great restraint positioned on the white walls, first, your own reflection and then that of the world around you: the interplay and layering of inside and outside, of light and shadow. You acquire impressions of the town, thus experiencing it, and like in many other places, you either become part of its system and adjust to its law of the jungle, or you subscribe to a higher morality: to orders that have become innate to you.

In Éva Mayer’s exhibition we see cityscapes, but the mode of display is now multi-layered, and if we so wish, we hear and see the multiple languages and voices of our visual and social Babel. Impressionism is one of the “visual frequencies” which come to mind upon seeing Éva Mayer’s “cityscapes”. This “ism” of the late 19th century set off a visual revolution of several strands: it escaped to the outdoors in order to convey impressions through reassessing natural phenomena, while at the same time it uncovered and revealed to us the city, as a new and unfamiliar book, with its avenues, cathedrals and pubs, its boudoirs and brothels, and all this done with a novel approach of seizing the moment, competing with photography.

[layers, differently]

Éva Mayer doesn’t superimpose layers through traditional image-building, but – using the act of layering as a conscious rite, a contemporary sacral act - first paints on glass plates, then scans them and completes the work on a computer. Meanwhile, because of the transparency, the colours change many times, thus making the outcome of this layering somewhat of a surprise even for her, a mystery. At times she scans the glass plate cloaked in gauze. The layering, the exaggerated hands, the micro-cosmic windows which seem up close to be large, but from afar tiny fireflies, these are all symbols, the symbols of big city life. Though at the same time the house is not a house, the lamps are not lamps, the city is in fact not a city but Éva Mayer’s soul-anatomy, or if you like, the pages of Éva’s book.

[soul and space]

The painted, scanned glass plate pictures printed on matte paper result in fiery colouration. These glossy hues relate closely to the artist’s intent: the works on the wall evoke the ambience of the big city deceptively illuminated by advertisements, yet they carry the light of Byzantium and the gleam of heavenly Jerusalem too. Some of the works contain text as well- the transcript of the Ten Commandments in Braille. Éva, who knows that not every one affected feels or understands the writing intended for the sightless, overlays the woven text of a “different language” on the micro-macro levels of a metropolis, partially overwriting its system in every sense. As is the case here with the law written in Braille, so is it with the Word of God: “If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear”[1], and at the same time it is those to whom the secret has not been revealed, that the Lord addresses in parables[2]. The motifs discovered in the works on display, the window, the hands and the Braille writing, just to mention a few, all reference a process during which we can achieve, by blind stumbling, the creation of a living space full of faith and soul (“soul-space”) – this we can read in the introduction to the exhibition[3]. Nevertheless, the symbolism implies that what could help us to “see and perceive”, to “see clearly” and to decipher the code, is finding metaphysical forces, those which have been carved in the stone tablet as well.

[world, worlds and worldless]

In our language, the word világ (world) has multiple meanings. Apart from our life-space, or environment, it can mean the outside world and light. The word “világtalan” (literally world-less, meaning sightless) in certain readings means “one without light”, “light-home-less”, one who lives off an inner light in a spiritual sense. At the opening of the exhibition, Baudelaire was cited, whose description of the night in one of his writings, “refreshing darkness, the inner celebration, that which frees us of angst”, can evoke ambivalent sensations and/or impressions, but can, perhaps, help us read, orient ourselves, as does Braille writing[4]. Éva Mayer’s colourful light patches condense and disperse, lightly overlap each other. The interweaving layers of light truly admit us into soul-spaces: their darkness guards light, as blackened photo-paper or the “soul” of a camera obscura. In our strange, but seemingly impersonal windows, there shines (or can shine) the intimacy of the universe.

Molnár Ani Gallery, April 17 – June 19, 2015

[1] Marc 4,23 KJB
[2] Marc 4,12 KJB
[3] Excerpt from the Press-release of the Exhibition/ Tünde Török, April 2015.
[4] Opening Speech of Mészáros Zsolt