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Sekrestye is a Budapest-based, loosely defined group of artists whose collective movements are centred around a series of exhibitions and events arranged predominantly in private places, introducing a fresh, off-track attitude to the art scene of the Hungarian capital. Surfacing gradually from the depths of social media and appearing sporadically in different venues, the group’s fifth exhibition was installed in the two visually transformed exhibition halls of Art9 Gallery and presented a visual jam session, that contextualised personal voices within a common vision.

Installation view, Art9 Gallery, 2019 | Photograph: Dávid Biró

What can one find in a whitecube wunderkammer? The first thing that catches the eye is a small, stuffed caiman – Yoman KaiMan! (2019) by Péter Gallov – floating upside down above a gleaming, superblue monochrome floor. Next to it, a plaster horsehead is hung from the ceiling – falling like a meteorite that was stopped midaction, making the constellation even more puzzling. Two sentences are written on the wall part of an installation by Tamás Juhász: No sleeping. No talking. (2019). The punctuation makes the two sentences assertive, but what is exactly declared here? Underneath unattached collages swim around only to become fix for a split second until the act of reading happens. Few steps further away, the before mentioned horse’s neck is strained in a fragmentary piece by Juhász titled Memento, derived from a subjective history (its origin is unclear). There are further creatures in this disparate collection that quietly shout for attention: there is a  mini-dinosaur – Kernosaurus (2018) – on a pedestal, carved by Ivor Almásy and János Donnák’s Milktooth animals are presented here as well, climbing up and down on their stack of silvery tapes (János Donnák: untitled scene with milk tooth animals, 2019).

Installation view, Art9 Gallery, 2019 | Photograph: Dávid Biró

What we see is a diverse collection of things: accentuated, exaggerated and transformed. The artworks claw into the gleaming white walls and the radiant ultramarine ground, only to emphasise the artificial, almost virtual sensation that the exhibition transmits. Is this where artworks find themselves in a lucid dream? Who could be the fictional collector of this material, the brain behind this random microcosm of disconnected memorabilia? In the case of UNIXPECTED (2019), there are no clear demarcations, one could even venture that the whole exhibition is one installation, created by a group that is not interested so much in exhibiting individual artworks, as in establishing a common space.

János Donnák: untitled scene with milk tooth animals, 2019 | Photograph: Dávid Biró

Péter Gallov’s installation – I don’t want to sleep (2019) – consists of three units: a miniature drawing of a volcano titled Not so dormant, a broken bust, that transforms in this context into a Crater and a white-on-white, superthin relief of an Ash Cloud, inspired by Japanese woodblock prints, especially the work of Hokusai. In the installation, the natural disaster is restrained through the powers of typographical space management and design becomes more sinister than the explosive phenomenon itself. Next, there is an almost indiscernible small scorpion (Péter Gallov: lil’sco, 2019). Its mould was taken from the tackiest type of gummy sweet, that one can get their hands on near the counter: the dark web of candies. Gallov’s long-standing interest in these creatures is fused here with a nostalgic attitude for the underground anti-design aesthetics of the ’90s.

Nearby Ivor Almásy’s miniature portrait of a pope – titled Little pope (2016) is alienated from simple portraiture by the choice of utilising glass in front of the image that is only partially treated chemically to function as protective museum glass. As we move closer to the face, we become aware of the rainbow-coloured border, the glitch in the glass that divides the reflective and non-reflective surfaces. The same image – though in different scale and part of a larger picture – was seen in the artist’s solo exhibition at K.A.S. Gallery in the last few weeks.[1] Almásy’s other piece in the exhibition, The triple-eyed Japanese (2015), is installed in the adjacent room high up in the corner, passing easily as a security camera. In fact, it is a three-eyed Japanese monster – a type of Kaiju – that is watching us.

Péter Gallov: I don’t want to sleep (installation detail), 2019 | Photograph: Dávid Biró

The intertextual teleportation of artworks and motifs is a recurring theme throughout the show. In the case of Patrícia Jagicza’s large-scale Janus-face – meblueme (2019) the disruptive lacquer material created a more turbulent surface then the visually numb floor, though both have a certain connection to monochrome painting. The floor was painted actually by the group of artists especially for this exhibition, and is visually central to the impact of the show. In the artwork titled Blue Death (2019) the face seems to swim on top of this blue ground, providing us with an almost invisible Ophelia. The plaster cast is also an allusion to the artists’ previous exhibition.[2] Jagicza’s installative questioning of self-portraiture creates spatial situations where identity can be restructured through the properties of the different materials.

Bence Töröcskei appears in the exhibition as a featured artist. The three paintings by Töröcskei – Studio 1-2-4 (2019) provide a behind-the-scenes insight, but instead of a documentative focus, we get the heavy,  LO-FI truth of painting, where the proximity of material runs parallel with the presence of the depicted person. Péter Gallov in the skull mask looks like a Watteau-figure on overdrive. Töröcskei’s paintings soak up the atmosphere of the experimental music sessions that were conducted by the crew of Sekrestye while he painted the pictures.

Ivor Almásy: Little pope, 2016 | Photograph: Dávid Biró

The surface of a black monotype by Lídia Takács, titled The Big Black (2015-2019), shows traces of the wooden boards transported from the flat of the artist. The austere atmosphere that emanates from this dominating graphic work vibes well with Kristóf Gabor’s installative piece, Gravitropic reaction of an idea (2019), that disrupts the monolithic surface of the picture by introducing curvy blades that are deployed in an industrial process to cut shapes to a given form. The triad of Kristóf’s, Jagicza’s and Takács’s work provides a solid minimalistic flow.

In a performative-interactive piece by Takács, Pockets (2019), the artist provided a platform for the fellow artists to add their personal tags. Basketball players, prints, drawings, a line made with a 3D pen that shifts in colour: a collection within the collection, a miniature model of how the exhibition was compiled. Zita Borbély’s high-tech piece -+off+- (2019) is also a combinatory artwork. The modular sized, but always changing formal elements of Borbély’s language narrates stories that we don’t understand cognitively, but feel them through playful visual interaction. János Donnák’s picture-changing device, titled morning vision of Hand (2019), has a strong connection to temporality. The yellow, toy-like piece – that the viewer can manually handle – evokes the optical experiences of childhood: those kaleidoscope stills, lightly stuck to my eyes. Summer afternoon revelations before the start of the new school year. Watching the afterimage float around in the well-groomed garden.


Lídia Takács: Pockets, 2019 | Photograph: Dávid Biró


[1] Ivor Almásy: Dissolving the Rules of Play, 2019, K.A.S. Gallery, Budapest (HU)

[2] Patrícia Jagicza & Patrícia Kaliczka: Ritual Trail to Self, 2019, FKSE Gallery, Budapest (HU)

Ivor Almásy / Zita Borbély / János Donnák / Péter Gallov / Patrícia Jagicza / Tamás Juhász / Gábor Kristóf / Lídia Takács / Bence Töröcskei

May 2 – May 23, 2019

Art9 Gallery, Budapest



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