Gábor Andrási art historian

Painted Parables

to András A. Márton’s paintings

Declaring that a reproduction is totally close to the original picture seems to be the most unusual statement on a painter’s artworks. However with the exemption of measurements this applies to András A. Márton’s paintings, that have only been painted in black and white, appearing on the pages of the magazine. Due to András A. Márton’s exclusive usage of black and white picturesque elements, local colours, tones and individuality of gesture-rooted brushworks are all banished from his pictures. Contrast-effect is his only means used as not only an optical phenomenon but also for colliding two universes via black and white. In Kandinsky’s words white is symbol of lively world full of possibilities where all the colours, as materialistic characters and substances, have faded away, so the universe of white is overburdened with vivid, intellectual tensions; while black is the universe of dead nothing after the sun has blown out, with no possibilities at all, with silence of despair without any future whirling in deaf emptiness.

In Márton’s pictures white lines, being lively intellectual substances themselves, split into the black space forming contours of wavy arabesques to frame rising figures painted with geometrical austereness. The keyword in Márton’s art is discipline arising from the conviction that painting, apart from having a “craft” aspect, is first and foremost an intellectual activity. Before actual painting starts the artist’s conceptions are matured in small pencil drafts for long, sometimes for years. When every aspect of the idea has been thought over accurately then the idea is transformed into visual image which is to be painted on the canvas. Due to this process of maturation the artist’s pictures are concise and the message is aphoristic. Two extreme end-points are laying the foundation of Márton’s artworks: motionless objects of the simplest phenomena – light and shadow effects, space and shape relations of banal everyday articles – and abstract ideas such as theoretical physics transformed into visual metaphors providing platform for discovering analogical laws.

A series of painted paraphrases referring to different situations of existence that had been analysed and interpreted by the artist, are to be born in Márton’s atelier. In the intellectual atmosphere of the pictures the “figural” motives and the “abstract” shapes are transubstantiated into signs and filled with symbolic dimensions. Signs, referring to notions, are first and foremost ideograms but can also be approached to from a pure sensual aspect. Intellectual clarity is also shown up in formal aspect while we are not forced to look up the “only correct” interpretation of “cipher”. It is not by chance that András A. Márton is attracted to Paul Klee’s painting and his world of ideas, where “exact scientism” and “pure poesy” are precisely united.

Different aspects of the problem are enlightened by the artist’s Van Gogh paraphrases [1, 2, 3.]. The Church at Auvers is dissolving into the weaving, thin, white curves of flame-tongues, melding with the movements of lines as if the essential tension of the original composition were revealed at a sudden flashlight. Homogeneous black and white surfaces with the rhythm of positive-negative petals in Still-life (actually a paraphrase of Sunflowers, 1888) are standing in place of Van Gogh’s warm, earthly-yellows.

Paraphrases painted by András A. Márton are to emphasise that “painting the most common articles of a given universe is to represent the artist’s transformative power of art with religiousness and philosophy.” A characteristic of Van Gogh’s art is emphasised by Márton namely that “artistic power, a hard to define godliness and ideology is concentrated in art by painting the most common articles of a given world” (Karl Jaspers).

The interwoven intellectual and sensual-impulsive contents of the disciplined and closed visual world of black and white appear not only by reduction. Márton’s art is free of asceticism. In some of his pictures the neutral impersonalised acrylic technique is changed for much freer handling of brush that permits facture of etched-broken lines where direction and impetus of brushstrokes can easily be revealed (Turning away, Production, 1983). Due to shift of facture coolness and motionlessness is changed for subjective liveliness with different tones of grey colour to be juxtaposed with previously used colours.

In his latest work (Time, 1986) Márton seems to get even closer to Klee’s spirit. Grey, coarse sackcloth is stuck on the canvas with a pendulum-like figure painted on it constructed of crossing lines and a circle and drawn over the surface thus breaking the black field of the picture. The abstract balance of the airy figure, painted in white lines, is reinforced by the sensual-physical dimension, thus while discipline of structure is kept conceptual closure of the artwork is also resolved. “I am too intellectual therefore I am restricted” Klee’s recognition may be emerging from the subconscious and turning up in the picture. While we don’t feel obliged to “decipher” everything this new “voice” is helping us create a heartfelt connection to the artworks. Poesy has arrived to András A. Márton’s art.

November 1986