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four paintings by David Utcai

Patrick Nicholas Tayler
Temporality plays a key role in the work of Dávid Utcai. Drawn to the sonic structures of techno and electronic music in general, Utcai investigates how materials create an ambient of visual signs. According to József A. Tillmann techno is one of the contemporary forms of the sublime[1] – that is: an overpowering presence, a loss of self-definition, a combination of beauty and fear.

David Utcai: Fast water, 2017, mixed media on canvas, 100×140 cm | Photograph: Dávid Utcai, image courtesy of the artist

And what else is a rave, a party? It is an immersion into a structure, a narrative of commonly accepted symbols, a place of recognition for the initiated. To create the build-up of tension and the  „drop” in his paintings, Utcai combines a wide array of tools and effects, that are the result of prolonged experimentation with the materiality of paint. He uses methods and processes from his experiences in film-industry and set-design, that he contrasts and combines with the use of the traditional medium of oil- and acrylic painting.

Some of these before mentioned non-traditional tools include the use of spray cans, household water pulverisers and pharmaceutical alcohol: a chemical compound that Utcai deploys to destroy the consistency of his layers by discolouring, or fracturing the material. These disturbances are hidden in the process of painting and don’t aspire to become central to the attention of the viewer, instead, they constitute the threads of Utcai’s painterly fabric.


David Utcai: Cosmic Message 10, 2016, acrylic and oil on canvas, 110×140 cm | Photograph: Dávid Utcai, image courtesy of the artist

The visually loaded and materially extorted gestures are mingled with straight lines, right angles and vectors symbolical of technology – seemingly appropriated from scientific graphs or computer programs. This results in a second revealing of the surface, as the movement of the body is withdrawn to give way to more calculated impulses.

Utcai’s method utilises a succession of layers, which each have their own geological time and place. Every new element is introduced into a pre-existing system and has to restructure, or at least partially overwrite what was there before in order to appear. It is a question of articulation and context and how a voice can accentuate itself in a field of noise. Organic and geometric are often in different depths of the painting but oscillate and merge to create a cyber reality – a collaboration of nature and technology. Due to the exact duality of these visual signs, it can be stated that these paintings are images that look at themselves, in order to navigate within their own system. All the lines that pass through the images introduce a presence into the painting that detects, maps and reveals the surface.


David Utcai: Untitled, 2018, acrylic and oil on canvas, 100×140 cm | Photograph: Dávid Utcai, image courtesy of the artist

In the visual language of Utcai eclectic sources are combined, and even if this is lost in the static of imagery, the influences quietly feed into Utcai’s work. He is driven by the colour schemes & the overall design of ‘80s advertisements and the beauty of circuit boards among many visually charged phenomenon that surround his generation. Utcai is affected by the continuous waves and ends of painting, including the questioning of what the medium can mean, how it relates to technology, mass media and the image today in general. His sources extend the limits of the visual as Utcai was also profoundly impacted by the war in the former Yugoslavia in the ‘90s and finds a way to catalyse these visual and social experiences through painting.

Using the term techne in his case as a starting point emphasises the question of making, and exposes painting as a process that unfolds in time. The technicistic pursuits, which move the process of painting forward, contribute to the underlying network of meaning, as they are the meat and the bone of the rhythmic structure that gives shape to the work of Utcai.


[1] Tillmann J. A. : Az urbán dizájn felé – Schöffer, későkonstruktivizmus 2016. május 18. https://muveszetelmelet.wordpress.com/


2nd October 2018 – 6th October 2018

BMK Gallery (pop-up exhibition)

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