Eastern European Collectors
Knoll Galria Budapest


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Ákos Birkás: The Totality and the Rest

Ákos Birkás: Three Men on the Riverside, 2015, Oil/Canvas, 80x210 cm

4. February - 16. April 2016 



Feb. 04, 2016, 7 p.m.


Opening speech:

Kornél Mundruczó 


The exhibition shows new works by Ákos Birkás which open up a new chapter in his artistic practice.


Ákos Birkás became known with his large, abstract Heads which he painted throughout the first decades of his artistic career. Around the year 2000 he extended his pictorial language by including figurative elements, whereas the head remained the central focus. The following landscape format series combined different figurative heads with dramatic background scenes. At the same time the artist’s interest shifted more towards the different levels of meaning within images - especially media images - which he hence investigated explicitly. That shift led to an intense phase of figurative painting in which Ákos Birkás reinterpreted different media images in painting. This period continued until recently.


In his new series the figurative elements decreased significantly and remain like a remark on the edge of the painting. Ákos Birkás not only questions the relation between abstraction and figuration, but also deals with much broader, more universal questions as the positioning between centers of power and peripheries:


„My painting has changed a lot recently. The works show contradictory, and from an aesthetical point of view incompatible, and mainly abstract elements, nevertheless with the classical approach of the unity of the composition. So not an assembly of arbitrary elements. The two levels of the painting aren’t „equal“ here. One part emerges with the demand to be the TOTALITY, the other part only as fragmentary rest which remains excluded. My paintings have changed, because it’s a reaction on the currently ongoing shifts and displacements within the European societies. Those shifts are probably much more profound then we think. I ask myself if an intellectual with his prevailing socio-critical attitude can keep his progressive role, or if this only leads to a formation of isolated, self-referred groups.


It’s clear that my paintings come from Eastern Europe which in his political thinking is closer to Russia then to the liberal European thinking. There exists no dialogue between the majority gathering around the central power and those who criticize or reject the centralization and standardization.

In the last few years I showed in the exhibitions paintings with direct political statements. To my mind „The Totality and the Rest“ is also an attempt of political painting, but in a much less direct and rather abstract way. This means that I’d like to abstain myself from direct political messages in order to position a problem or a question in a much broader aesthetic field of interpretation.“ Ákos Birkás