The works comprised within the present have been realized between the early Seventies and the 2010s, after Tót gave up summary expressionist and Informel—portray in 1970, solely to return to the painterly gesture in complete secrecy within the Eighties and to disclose this truth within the Summer season of 2021. Throughout these 5 a long time, the Hungarian artist elaborated and unfolded thematic conceptual sequence in quite a lot of (new) media reminiscent of artist books, telegrams, postcards, typewriting, postal and rubber stamps, video, posters, graffiti, banners or actions. The items on view within the exhibition examine the three basic ideas he conceived by 1971, termed Zer0, Pleasure and Rain, that have been elaborated as conceptual survival methods utilizing derision and humour towards the grim Socialist on a regular basis life. Within the mild of this 12 months’s traumatic geopolitical occasions, the struggle in Ukraine raging at our borders, and the nonetheless prevailing East-West dichotomy that shapes our existence, Endre Tót’s life—balancing between Hungary and West Germany since 1979— and works stay sharply related, up to date, due to this fact providing a visible, conceptual antidote to our anxious occasions.
The idea and motif of Zer0 first made its look within the artist’s mail artwork exercise, a type of creative communication that conveyed completely his idea-based artwork, whereas additionally constituting the one means to provoke correspondence as early as 1971 with probably the most distinguished figures of the worldwide avant-garde from behind the iron curtain. For Tót, the Zer0 signal, which embodied the mathematical idea of nothing, primarily symbolised the absurdity of communication, but additionally the ideas of absence and presence, whereas the philosophical and political elements of the character “0” actually mirrored an ontological strategy of the situation of each residents and artists underneath state Socialism.
The textual content, as a way of communication—was harmful grounds contemplating how the liberty of speech was curbed within the socialist regime. Tót’s works, nonetheless, communicated by not speaking, by saying nothing, and by picturing absence, as expressed within the Nothing, Absent Portray and Blackout Portray sequence—in direct reference to the Zer0 idea.
The second group of artworks from Endre Tót’s early conceptual interval are his Rain items. The raining sample, created with an economic system of visible means by repeatedly hitting the “/” signal on the typewriter, is all the time accompanied by textual content, a fertile floor for the mental playfulness attribute of Endre Tót’s strategy, which at occasions manifested within the type of banal tautology, and at different occasions as (self-)ironic creative self-expression or humorous political references. Discovered footage—postcards, reproductions of well-known work, or photos from magazines—comprised the premise of a good portion of the Rain works, during which the artist inserted texts with references to the picture or the form of the rain, in clear reference to visible poetry.
Made in 1971, Endre Tót’s first Pleasure piece which was a single sentence in English and Hungarian on a postcard-sized cardboard sheet: “I’m glad that I may have this sentence printed.” Within the mild of the authoritarian management exerted by the socialist regime over any type of publishing, printing and circulating texts, Tót’s sentence is an ironic expression of the optimism demanded by the state from its residents. Tót himself writes the next: “My Joys have been the reflections of the totalitarian state of the seventies. I responded with the absurd euphoria of Joys to censorship, isolation, suppression sensed in each discipline of life, although this suppression labored with the subtlest means, hardly seen.” The artist’s recognition of the truth that he can’t be held accountable by the authorities for expressing his pleasure gave rise to additional Pleasure items, the event, universalisation of the subject in addition to the Tót’s progressively unfolding actionism, particularly the Gladness Demonstrations and the sequence Very Particular Gladnesses, associating picture and textual content.
at Christine König Galerie, Vienna
till October 8, 2022