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Exhibitions

Photography (The Retoucher)


An exhibition of Viola Fátyol and Anna Nemes


 Curated by: József Mélyi


 03. 11. 2015 - 04. 12. 2015


The concept of the exhibition was inspired by Pál Zolnay’s film from 1972: Photography (its working title during the shooting: The Retoucher). In the film two young gentlemen, a photographer and a retoucher, set off to go to the countryside, impressed by an idea conceived during a New Year’s Eve in Pest. They go from house to house in a village, offering their services: they prepare portraits of the residents or fix old photographs. In a short time it turns out that the majority of the people do not wish to see the raw reality recorded by the photographer, but rather prefer the work of the retoucher, the modified, idealised picture. In the meantime, from the conversations during the taking of photographs and the memories connected to the photos, stories of families and personal tragedies of people unfold – the creators face all this in a stunned way and, apparently, without any proper means.


In the centre of the exhibition, Photography (The Retoucher), stand the image creators of today; two young women, a photographer and a painter search for the possible tools of grasping reality in Budapest. The two artists did not know each other earlier; the project has formed through several meetings and conversations, proceeding from an idea of the curator. The double self-portarits of Viola Fátyol and Anna Nemes are at the same time personal prints and impersonal examination of approaching reality. The photographic portrait fixes a moment lifted from time, it records a given system of relations, and only the beholder, the after-ages of the recording may judge its composition, its reality, its truth or falsehood.


The picturesque double portrait, on which the two faces appear floating on each other, creates an image from the momentary pictures, relieved of the burden of time. The pictures do not idealise, do not serve anybody. They offer identity-possibilities among which the roles desired as children appear (the Virgin Mary and the black singer), and the feelings of safety and fears connected to roles and masks, the pure face and the disfigured, sameness and otherness – and also the questions of seeing and being seen, sieved through all this. In the film the face of the photographer and the retoucher often appears in reflection or through a window; in this case the mirror and the semi-transparent layer is produced by the surface of the photograph and the painting.


Photography is documentary and fictional at the same time; moving and still pictures, sang poems, recounted stories, and the momentary print of the contemporary Hungarian era inseparably interweave in it. The exhibition establishes connection in a similar way among different temporal- and reality layers, and different genres or modes of representation. The most important is, however, the relationship between the creators: the possibility of cooperation, the problematics of the existence and unfolding of correlations between photograph and painting. As if through the portraits that reflect each other and float into each other the painter and the photographer raised the fundamental question to each other: is it still possible to show, reflect or shape with image creating tools the mediatised reality which, due to its mediatisation, appears in more refractions, seems more complicated, and is, at the same time, more and more pressing for us?