LondonKároly Keserü: 39
Károly Keserü’s drawings and paintings employ a reduced language, always playful, even light, yet at times disturbingly complex. Charged with open and hidden references to art history, folk culture, textiles and music, the thematic allusions are generally unpretentious and stripped to their essential basics. However, the selection of works coming together in 39 could not be more varied and multifaceted. Some of the drawings in ink and graphite are static, dense and two-dimensional, others open and incredibly dynamic, rhythmically filling whole pages with wave like structures, compositions of dots and lines or scribbles that merge to territorial arrangements or primordially inspired designs.
On first glance one risks taking some of Keserü’s drawings too lightly. As he quotes artists and movements from Modernism and Post-Modernism, we instantaneously claim to recognize compositions and colours. However, engaging with the works in more depth and questioning their aura of familiarity, the works astonish the viewer with new perspectives and interpretations. Especially works such as Untitled XXth Century Series: Paul Klee, Take a line – and a few more for a walk demonstrate Keserü’s mastering of appropriation and implementation. The drawing fuses Klee’s credo with the Hungarian’s distinctive vocabulary and allows him to re-investigate and expand the legacy that early modernist artists and 20th century avant-gardists have left behind. In another painting, Untitled XXth Century Series: Bridget Riley, Keserü alters Riley’s signature stripe paintings to an Aboriginal inspired composition and a colour palette reminiscent of African textiles.
While Keserü’s references predominantly trace back to 20th century aesthetics, his compositions appear to be of our time, linked to digital imagery of pixelated close-up or visualized data textures, although his lines and dots are completely hand made in a labour-intensive manner. The paintings are generally less experimental than the drawings yet visually more radical, as the technique is still drawing-like, not painterly, but the materials are not. Executed in multiple layers of resin on canvas or wood, loose accumulations or more linear structures of dots are levitating on the picture plane creating visual depth of an almost sculptural effect.
As we start to decode Keserü’s gatherings of lines, circles, dots and grids and to untangle his scribbles and retouches, Keserü always surprises with completely different and innovative approaches confriming the artist’s unrestrained curiosity in a multitude of stimuli from different cultures, religions, and philosophies. 39 can be experienced as something uncharted that unfolds on the picture surface – similar to a piece of music – still Keserü’s main influence behind his art. As viewers we take on this wealth of imagery, inspiration and skill to stimulate our own feelings and understanding, memory and examination of art – and of the world as a whole.Courtesy of the artist and Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, London