The Image of Colour, the Mystery of Image

2024. Feb. 10. - 2024. May. 12.

The current exhibition at MODEM, titled The Image of Colour, the Mystery of Image, presents a comprehensive selection of monochrome paintings from the Antal-Lusztig Collection. This collection is recognised as one of the most significant private collections in Hungary, and a major group of works from it have been deposited in the museums of Debrecen. Focusing on the tradition of exhibiting works from the Antal-Lusztig Collection, this selection comprises several hundred national and international works. Dr. Péter Antal, the owner, began his acquisition of monochrome paintings in the mid-2000s, and the collection of more than five hundred works constitutes a separate segment of his collection. Over the past decades, a selection of these monochrome works has been featured in several exhibitions in Hungary and abroad. The significance of this material, which has never been exhibited in its entirety, lies, among other things, in the exceptional commitment to collecting. Through this commitment, the spirit and legacy of monochrome painting persist in the national discourse, manifesting not only as individual works and consistent creative endeavours, but also occasionally appearing in public discourse through press publications accompanying exhibitions featuring selected works from the Antal-Lusztig Collection. This contributes to the continuity of communication on the subject and underscores the unquestionable historical (and international) embedding of the chapter of the monochrome in Hungary.

Marcia Hafif, one of the most prominent figures in the monochrome painting movement, published her programmatic essay Beginning Again in 1978. In this essay, Hafif deconstructs the medium of painting, tracing its origins back to historical references. In order to begin painting anew, Hafif urges a reexamination of the claims made by artists such as Rodchenko, Malevich, Strzemiński, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, and others who had proclaimed the death of painting. She highlights a cricital juncture when, in her words, “the enterprise of painting was in question, was “under erasure”. A resolution to this moment emerged when “artists still interested in painting began an analysis of painting, turning to the basic question of what painting is”, not in order to define painting, but to be able to revitalise it by initiating a fresh start.

Joseph Marioni, a prominent American monochrome painter, builds on Marcia Hafif’s theoretical assumptions. Marioni defines monochrome painting as an “approach” best characterised as a 20th century research project that sought to explore the defining principles of painting. As such, this approach enabled painters committed to monochrome to synthesise the painting experience of their predecessors through a fundamental analysis of painting. The painters and oeuvres associated with this research, inspired by the material components of painting but transcending abstraction, laid new foundations for the relationship between painting (image) and spectator. Furthermore, they redefined the conceptual pair of painting (image) and object and, most significantly, liberated the material nature of paint from the centuries-old shackles of representation.

The current exhibition, featuring selected works from the monochrome segment of the Antal-Lusztig Collection, is organised into eight + one separate units. It aims to guide the visitor along a path, both physical and imaginary, that begins with an exploration of the material components of painting. The journey then progresses through the research of monochrome painters, delving into the foundational concepts of painting, concepts such as gesture, the space of the image, the boundaries of the image, and the layers of the image. The works of national and international artists, organised into sections, serve to refine general ideas about these fundamental concepts. Moreover, the exhibition introduces visitors to the mystery of painting, which, following the liberation of the material of paint, has given rise to a unique type of portraiture that depicts the image of colour.

Most of the painters featured in each section are concerned with the self-referential aspects of painting. The monochrome form provides the safest ground for their explorations in this direction; the framework of this form allows them to radically distance themselves from communicating any message or representing any narrative content. The representatives of the Radical Painting movement leverage the potential of monochrome to focus on the structural analysis of the painting and the medium as well as on colour and the subjective nature of the image. They perceive colour as an entity in itself, separable from all surfaces and forms, and present this independent entity to the viewer through the possibilities of the physical dimensions of the subject (matter), existing for its own sake.

Curator: Zsikla Mónika

Artists: Marcus ABEL / Giuseppe AMADIO / Anne APPLEBY / Bernard AUBERTIN / César BALDACCINI / Torie BEGG / Hagan BENGTSSON / BERNÁT András / Alfonso FRATTEGIANI BIANCHI / Bram BOGART / Alan CHARLTON / Philippe CHITARRINI / Christiane CONRAD / CSEH Szilvia / Christoph DAHLHAUSEN / Rudolf de CRIGNIS / Alec De BUSSCHÈRE / Gioppe DI BELLA / Arturo DI MARIA / Hadrien DUSSOIX / ERDÉLYI Gábor / Helmut FEDERLE / FELEDY Gyula Zoltán / FORGÓ Árpád / Rossella FUMASONI / GÁL András / Jakob GÄSTEIGER / Johannes GECCELLI / Alex GERN / Ludwig GERSTACKER / Johannes GIRARDONI / Raimund GIRKE / Kuno GONSCHIOR / HAÁSZ István / Marcia HAFIF / HANTAÏ Simon / Herbert HAMAK / HENCZE Tamás / René HERAR / Manfred JÄGER / Jeong Sook AHN / Dorothae JOACHIM / Zebedee JONES / Jus JUCHMANS / KÁLDI Katalin / KÁROLYI Zsigmond / KEPES György / Imi KNOEBEL / Hartwig KOMPA / Marie Joe LAFONTAINE / Edwina LEAPMAN / Ciarán LENNON / Sol LEWITT / Erik LINDMANN / Omar LUDO / James LUMSDEN / Vincent MARRAS / Jason MARTIN / Pierro MANZONI / Umberto MARIANI / Joseph MARIONI / Ingo MELLER / Jürgen MEYER / MOLNÁR Vera / Kiminori MIZOBE / A. Paola NEUMANN / Hermann NITSCH / Gunnar OKNER / Gianluca PATTI / Thomas PHIL / PAUER Gyula / Frank PIASTA / Alfredo PIRRI / Paul RAGUÉNÈS / Jochims RAIMER / Dirk RATHKE / Gerhard RICHTER / Rene RIETMEYER / Perry ROBERTS / Rolf ROSE / Arnulf RAINER – Dieter ROTH / Michael RÖGLER / Yuko SAKURAI / Constanze SCHWEIGER / Phil SIMS / Soós TAMÁS / Andre STEMPFEL / REIGL Judit / Rudy STANZEL / ŠWIERKIEWICZ Róbert / SZABÓ Dezső / SZALAI Kata / SZLÁVIK Barbara / Cedric TEISSEIRE / Heiner THIEL / Irene THOMET / Frederic Matys THURSZ / Peter TOLLENS / Jorrit TORNQUIST / TÖLG-MOLNÁR Zoltán / Lee UFAN / Günther UMBERG / VARGA Gabi / Dieter VILLINGER / Winfried VIRNICH / Icke WINZER / Duane ZALOUDEK / Herbert ZANGS / Jerry ZENIUK / John ZINSSE

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