Ákos Birkás

White Square, 2009, oil on canvas, 160x240 cm

Opening Tuesday, 17.11.2009, 7 pm

Gallerynight in the course of the vienna art week, 7 - 12 pm, programme:
7.15 pm Lecture Katrin Heidt, Art historian, Zurich
New docu-film about Ákos Birkás will be shown (26 min.)
10.30 pm pumpkin soup

Exhibition lasts until 6th of February 2010

„... i hope, that I am no more than at the beginning of this work...“1 answers Ákos Birkás in an interview with Edit Sasvári in 2006 in her statement, that his paintings aren’t just realistic artworks but real, thematic paintings. So she focuses on this very point in Birkás’ works which can be seen in his new paintings exhibited starting 17th of November 2009, in the Knoll Gallery Vienna.
The large-size and expressive colour scheme are very characteristic of his works which often lead people to attribute his works to photorealism. But for the mindful viewer. a stage opens up which has been well casted by the artist himself. The spectacle starts where we all take on an important role: the one of the recipient. The whole world is perceived through pictures; pictures which are significantly defined by the media, and reiterated depending on their actuality. Thereby they take on a permanent place in our memory, they steal into our innermost. But what’s their message? Birkás pursues this question  in his latest paintings. Quite contrary to photorealism which aims to reflect the reality in detail to unmask it as illusion, Birkás tries to „...expand into the truth arranged behind those mediatized pictures“2, as Katrin Heidt formulated quite precisely. And further:“ It’s not their virtuality, it’s their reality that stirs us.“3 

Ákos Birkás: „I believe that realism in painting still has a high communicative potential. My interest in an accentuated communicative painting leads to the question of thematic pictures and this in turn leads to political questions.“ The painting supports, thereby, the „establishment of the truth“ by means of it’s slowness. Ákos Birkás: „The press photo provides a larger freedom for thoughts. In my work, it’s all about this way of thinking. This is also related to the slow development process of these paintings.“ A moment of the fast media-world of images is retained, frozen and preserved. Does the scene bear up this process? Does a message persist of a political subject or a media role, after Birkás has analyzed, deconstructed and interpreted it in the language of his painting? „The sites of fracture in the painting, all this what a contradictory reading evokes, seems to approach the genuine meaning of the painting, and to uncover it’s inner core.“4 These moments of tension are pointed out by Katrin Heidt as main gists in Birkás paintings. So she picks up, thus, the topic of Jacques Rancière’s considerations on political philosophy, whereby art has to contain contradiciton which only is able to persist if the tension between two contradictions isn’t dispersed. Which contradicitons we are exposed to in life and which part of the public expands into our private domain, is investigated by Birkás in his new paintings. Hence he isn’t at the beginning of his work, but rather in the thick of it.

1Edit Sasvári; Ist es ein Gebäude oder ein Weg? Ein Gespräch mit Ákos Birkás; in: Birkás Ákos, Werke 1975-2006, Ludwig Múzeum Budapest, 2006; 119-135, p.135.
2Katrin Heidt: The dissolving of the art. Ákos Birkás’ newest works in the focus of photorealism, new figuration and political philosophy, Lecture given on the symposium "After the second public" on 6th of Ocotober 2009 in the Knoll Gallery Budapest.
3Ibid., p. 9.
4Ibid., p. 12.