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Guarding Beauty
Ádám Dallos’s one-man show Mercurius with Crying Dragon

Patrick Nicholas Tayler

Ádám Dallos: Boy with Crying Dragon, 200 x 150 cm, oil on canvas (2019) | Photograph: Gellért Áment

Ádám Dallos exhibited three large-scale oil paintings – Boy with Crying Dragon (2019), Mercurius with Crying Dragon (2019), Bleeding Eye Bull Begins to Cry (2019) – that each show an individual male nude in the company of a monster. The mythical beasts complete the human figures as attributes of an awakening power, as projected spirits of testosterone, or in other words, a guarding presence hovering above the exposed bodies. Two dragons and a bull watch over the fragile but fierce young men with an extra pair of piercing, deadly gazes. These mythical creatures establish the doubled self-awareness of the image, as the immense contrast between the heated surface of the canvas and the icy cold look of the figures is amplified in the staring eyes of the fictitious beasts. The nakedness of the nudes – the topography of the body with its large expanses of colour and its sign-like hesitations and accentuations – navigates the viewer to the naked truth of painting: the smudged, the scraped, the spontaneously redirected, the flowingly revealed materiality of the images, which again assume a figure, a body of signs created and traced by the attentive eye of the artist. There is a continuous oscillation between the structure of the painting and its dream-like aura. The body – and its escape: the light but forceful gaze – is what is guarded by the image, not simply by the scenic construction of the painting, but also by its openness to different interpretive positions.

Ádám Dallos: Bleeding Eye Bull Begins to Cry, 200 x 140 cm, oil on canvas (2019) | Photograph: Gellért Áment

One is drawn close to the multiple centres of the paintings: the faces, the lonely eye of the crying bull, the erected penis and the skies that disintegrate into separate strands of a full, orchestral chord. Beauty guarded, treasured, hidden and at the same time exposed without mediation with explosive force. The shards of uncovered white canvas – undisturbed by the scene – reinforce the closeness of the initial moment of the act of painting. The first gestures, that set the depth and the space, are revealed simultaneously with the last, careful modifications of the figure, the last tremors of tactility in the painting. This eruptive and also resolved nature of the images lends them a visionary mood, positioning the viewer as a bystander who shares the emotional turmoil and the staged space of the painting for a prolonged, tableaux vivants-like, moment in front of the canvas.

The painting Bleeding Eye Bull Begins to Cry (2019) is an exceptionally powerful image. What is emphasised the most is the face with its modelled, tonally rich surface, where the precariousness of the features is manipulated through direct gestures. The foremost aspect of painting here is touching or feeling for and only then depicting with an overloaded, emotionally charged certainty. The sweeping, ribbon-like gestures change their scale as they close in around the face and other features, the large swaying brushstrokes transforming into the microcosm of the slightly moving face. The rhetoric of the paintings ranges from a hefty expressionism to the magnetic power of a juicy symbolism, where the pathetic fallacy of the stormy environment invigorates the semi-transparent figures. The bulging waves of the painting, its loose but heavy, gravitating painterliness activates the whole surface, encapsulating the figure, guarding it from us. We are being watched.

Ádám Dallos: Mercurius with Crying Dragon @ 1111 Galéria, Budapest (2019)
| Photograph: Dávid Biró


1111 Gallery, Budapest

12th June – 26th June, 2019


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