Zoltán Tombor is Guest of Artist Encounters in Stuttgart
21 • 03 • 16Vera A Fehér
Also featuring the German Dr Ralph Fischer, a gallery owner and photographer, the duo exhibition is entitled Dialogue on the Experience of Architecture / Dialog über das Erleben von Architektur. With the series, the Institute promotes Hungarian-German relations, and especially links with Baden-Württemberg. The pandemic notwithstanding, the exhibition, which opened on 9 March, can be visited by prior arrangement. After Stuttgart, it will go on a tour, and will be shown, at dates yet to be determined, in Ulm and Berlin, and before the year is out, in Budapest.
Each Artist Encounter brings together a local German artists and their Hungarian counterpart from mainland Hungary for a duo exhibition. Alongside Dr Fischer’s pictures of icons of modernist architecture, Tombor presents previously unexhibited photos, his own takes on the built environment of the city. They were not intended for this exhibition: made in the streets of Brooklyn between 2013 and 2018, they were meant, by his own account, to serve observation and analysis—and not much else. The series was a source of visual joy for him, thanks to the repeated discovery of structural and geometrical order. However, his enthusiasm turned this pastime into a serious project:
The idea with the series was to give a shape to the chaos around me, to make the banal things you see every day interesting by cutting out only certain parts of reality. I married the genres of street photography or urban landscape and object photography that is meant to be installed at an exhibition, and I found the new dimensions that arose interesting. Photographing that mess helped me a lot in understanding America, and in making friends with a cold and unsympathetic city, at least for a time. There is a selection from the material I collected over the years, which I call Gestalt, and the Stuttgart show features 33 images from this series,” Zoltán Tombor told Punkt.
He said the installation relied on “unexpected” visual rhyming and formal relationships between his own works and those of his German fellow artist, and it was this jazzy quality, the improvisation-based planning, that made the cooperation special, and very much like his own way of taking photographs.
“Each has the bouquet of a Spätlese, a late vintage. But what is most similar is the active and conscious nature of visual reception, the choice of often unique viewpoints, with which they build ‘image architectures,’ though they go about it in different ways—perhaps different in the manner of Kassák and Bortnyik. Their method is reciprocal, or inversive, because they use their cameras to compose new spatial illusions from the existing three-dimensional space, or usually, segments of space. Often, the geometrical elements of space are transformed into geometrical elements of the plane. Juxtaposing photos with identical motifs made it evident that the compositions enter into relationships that are easy to interpret, to read. As I talked to the artists, another common theme seemed to emerge, and that was a respect towards the Bauhaus, and especially László Moholy-Nagy. Hence the choice of the title, A Dialogue on the Experience of Architecture, which is the title of a chapter in a book Moholy-Nagy published in German,” said art historian Márton Barki, who co-curated the exhibition with Bernadette Dán, Cultural Manager of the Institute.
The exhibition also features an interesting solution, which partly owes its existence to the pandemic: there are signs with QR codes which allow visitors to hear the artists themselves talk about their works. A guided tour is thus available at all times, while the artists not only share their thoughts but also engage in an indirect dialogue, with their interpretations, about how photography reflects on architecture.