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Dr. Judit Szeifert: Perpetuum Pictoris Diarium

Looking at Csaba Szegedi's painting series "Flow" we find ourselves out of space and time. We walk the barren and desolate landscapes, the waterfront, the hills spread out under the huge sky.

The alternation of the four seasons is evident for those living under continental climate. The harsh winter with cool purples, frosty blues and coldly blinding yellow glows, or slushy browns appear in the paintings.

The refreshing, rebirth promising, lukewarm spring arrives with orange and ochre yellows seeping through the bright greens.

The hot summer evokes the Mediterranean regions in most of the pictures in the series. The places where the only timekeeper is the sea. Where only the sea's cyclical changes, ritual repetitions and sometimes capricious fluttering show the passage and cycle of time. In the endless stillness, only the murmur of the sea and the rhythmic music of its waves can be heard. The golden lemon and orange essence of the sun filters through the light, damp clouds.

Then autumn arrives weaving in the fading greens with yellowing, browning, and reddish bands. Before the season of passing away nature once more dresses up in autumn colors, before the colorful foliage falls down covering the ground with a carpet of leaf-litter. Then the frosty winter comes again covering the landscape with ice and a blanket of white snow.

 Everything starts over. Everything continues. Repetitions and changes. Shining and fading, creation and decay alternate in different rhythms, in different forms.

We feel that we are in progress, that we are also part of the big whole. All of this is reinforced by the images’ compositional elements, horizontal piecelets evoking sometimes the ripples of water, sometimes the rolling hills, sometimes the roof tiles. Each image is a fragment torn out, a segment from the web of continuity. We have the feeling as if we are looking at one piece of a film reel which itself is made up of film strips. Fragments of memory and fragments of time come together to form an endless story where each image is a temporal presence in itself. Horizontal visual elements like horizontally drawn brush strokes further divide the canvas and break up the flow of time with new beats. The compositions are rhythmic, melodic, and evoke musical associations.

The main actors of the pictures are the colors and the lights, as well as capturing the feel of air and atmosphere. We can be part of a kind of visual synesthesia through Csaba Szegedi’s paintings. What we perceive is the atmosphere, we can feel the air, the sounds, the tastes. The scorching, caustic stings of the frosty winter mist. The crunch of the snow and ice and the sizzle of the leaf-litter under our feet. We can feel the Mediterranean air, salty from the sea, and sweet from the brick dust in other pictures. The steam from the water splashing on the hot pavement casts a mirage into the air. Harsh greens, dusty reds and flashing ochres peek out from under the gum layer that covers everything evenly. Tempera colors and pastel hues move along one another sliding in overlapping layers. The scratchy texture of the raw brick peaks uot from under the scuffed paint layers of the house walls’ weathered plaster. Other times layered reminiscences of archaeological excavations or shifting strata of geological phenomena come to mind. When the layers of time unravel like a fabric. The landscapes sublimate into color fields and turn into a metaphysical space by the painter's brushstrokes.

We travel countries and continents standing in one place when looking at Csaba Szegedi’s pictures. Our static existence is the only handhold in the ever-changing world around us. Landscape segments, natural phenomena, landmarks flash up like diary entries. Like when we look at the landscape from a train. Fragments of experience sometimes sweeping blurred and sometimes slowly floating away roll in front of us in movie frames the size of a train window.

The key word in Csaba Szegedi's series is continuity, which is expressed on the one hand through the theme and presentation of the images. On the other hand, their creation is also continuous. This also symbolically expresses the subject-matter of the painting cycle. The permanence of art, its existence and effect that lasts "forever", but at least goes beyond the limits of human existence.

 His pictures are landscape notes, entries on the pages of the perpetual calendar of painting. Where everything, sometimes returning to itself, sometimes repeating, sometimes reassessing itself, but changes. Only continuity is constant.

 

Dr. Judit Szeifert's introduction for the catalogue, and opening at the "Flow" exhibition, Karinthy Szalon, Budapest, 2018.

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