Tayler Patrick Nicholas
The reconstruction of a hypothetical, mechanical process and the dislocation of the aesthetic aspect is brought into play in the conceptual framework of Róbert Batykó’s painting practice. The images activate responses in the viewer similar to the act of forensic analysis – a need to understand the events that formed the finished pieces. Projecting an illusionary past tense onto the surface, the viewer lets the pictorial signs oscillate between the discernible chronological stages and the material presence of the canvas. However, this backwards temporality seems to have only a short term memory when the amnesiac surface occasionally absorbs the motifs of the paintings, leaving the question of formation ambiguous, unanswered.
In Facelift (2018) a horizontal line of thick paint is left as a residue in the centre of the canvas. The heavy paint falls back on itself and is completely separated from the surrounding, flat expanse. An upwards running gesture leads to this amassment of material, this sensual and visually opaque body. The paint has been worked mechanically into the surface, leaving undecipherable traces that pulsate within the two-dimensional domain of the canvas. Above this there is an anthropomorphic shape, that is scraped off with a downward motion, directing the gaze again towards the midpoint that closes these hallucinogenic areas with a “full stop”. In Sharpen (2018), there is an amplitude-like graphical sign followed by a more amorphous structure, that is horizontally thinned out. An invisible gesture pushes everything towards the right. The transported material leaves a ghost-like mark on the canvas, intentionally stopping for a system restart.
There is a pre-programmed quality in Batykó’s work, it operates on the border of the visual culture of digital technology, the logic of picture editing software and process art. Instead of a file’s invisible transformation, Batykó’s work deploys an organic substance and not a binary system. The image is fixed onto the hard-drive of easel painting: hitting ctrl+alt+z doesn’t work here, neither is there space for any further modification. The interface is frozen.
A potential creative agency is coded into the pictorial elements. The edit paths, tangents, anchor and corner points distinguish the monolith surface of the canvas into fix and adjustable layers. The viewer of the paintings is given a sense of authorship, of being able to co-create, to imagine what kind of vector these patterns and shapes could move along. In both Masquerade I. and II. (2017) and also in Crop (2018) one single motif is selected for reconfiguration. The isolation does not let the forms assume autonomy, instead it makes them victims of infinite transfiguration. In the case of Crop, the centrally located, small, blue rectangle suggests a new start: if everything surrounding it is “cropped” from the image, it leaves nothing else but the monochrome surface of the blue screen of death, a tabula rasa.
Authorship is also questioned through the cyber-union of machine and man: a nostalgic utopia that manifests in the fact that Batykó utilises a contrivance of his own design to thin out the layers of oil paint. The production of a painting is a collaboration with this constructed apparatus. But the surface of the canvas also has its own conditions. The super-thin layers of paint let the sculptural structure of the woven fabric appear. With the careful choice of weaved textures, Batykó directs microscopic relations between medium and support, which is epitomized in the work titled Reflection (2019). This combination causes a soft, almost ephemeral glitch, a feather-weight disturbance, an index that points to the materialistic premises of the painting, its genealogy. The painting is more verb than noun, more .exe than .jpg.
acb Gallery, Budapest
15th of February 2019 – 29th of March 2019