exhibition: 5. 3. - 28. 4. 2019
Curator: Michal Novotný
“We all know that we are material creatures, subject to the laws of physiology and physics, and not even the power of all our feelings combined can defeat those laws. All we can do is detest them. The age-old faith of lovers and poets in the power of love, stronger than death, that finis vitae sed non amoris, is a lie, useless and not even funny. So must one be resigned to being a clock that measures the passage of time, now out of order, now repaired, and whose mechanism generates despair and love as soon as its maker sets it going? Are we to grow used to the idea that every man relieves ancient torments, which are all more profound because they grow comic with repetition? That human existence should repeat itself, well and good, but that it should repeat itself like a hackneyed tune, or a record a drunkard keeps playing as he feeds coins into the jukebox… That liquid giant had been the death of hundreds of men. The entire human race had tried in vain to establish even more tenuous link with it, and it bore my weight without even noticing me any more than it would notice a speck of dust. I did not believe that it could respond to the tragedy of two human beings. Yet its activities did have a purpose… True, I was not absolutely certain, but leaving would mean giving up a chance, perhaps an infinitesimal one, perhaps only imaginary…”
Stanislaw Lem: Solaris
Since my first encounter with Emoke Varga’s work I’ve been struck by its strangely simultaneous feelings of alienation and love: child-like awe empties things of their servility and purpose, and seeing is enough to transform them into strange forms without perspective. Varga extracts her works from the instrumental uses that otherwise lead us to careless blindness in our everyday lives. It is like looking at something for long enough until some of its features disappear, while others become more pronounced and visible and bring forth the essence of the object.
This singular, contemplative, and meditative yet gentle approach is combined with a structurally harmonious geometry—blending, smudging, flattening, extending, grooving and emerging. It’s as if Emoke Varga’s works had an inner gravitation of their own, a focal point that draws and sucks them and their surroundings in. As if this inner tension was increasing in certain points and relaxing in others, until reaching a developed form. That’s why the surface or shell, a gentle and fragile exterior that lets the harmonious and ideal structure come out, is always the essential element. However, this structure is almost always on the borderline of visibility—veiled and impossible to focus on as it oscillates between surface and space, its composition extending and dissolving. The artist’s choice of ordinary, household, cheap materials, often stereotypically feminine and domestic, and the titles of her works, all create a feeling of intimacy and safety. Varga’s objects and paintings often create associations of touch and closeness.
Could it be the contradictions between the specificity, banality and familiarity of objects and materials, or the ideal universality of structures that creates tension, a sense of vertigo and ecstasy; that makes us feel as if those objects were familiar to us, yet from a different world? Varga’s works communicate the feeling of a past future, a futuristic shabbiness. Perhaps this is an encounter with archaeological artefacts, fragments of unknown technologies buried under layers of dust and sand on a foreign planet. And the feeling is that we’ve discovered something we don’t quite understand but the importance of which we sense internally, a logic we adhere to.
As if Emoke’s works always contained the longing for a message: not only do they often remind one of transmitters, receivers, charts and repositories, but they entail this general longing for communication and connection regardless of the specific message, regardless of receiving or understanding.