Gyécsek’s Faces

I wrote about Gyécsek József’s pictures five years ago, in 2003. The concluding lines were as follows:
“The spectator might as well think that what they see is the ultimate result of a ten-year-long creative and searhing process, which can not be heightened any further. What is yet to come? Pécs, 22nd Sept. 2003”

Five years ago, we did not see the pictures of faces, although the large portraits painted with various techniques on surfaces of 3 to 4 square metre had been being prepared for years then. The temporal parallelism is to be understood in multiple ways as meanwhile, Gyécsek József has been drawing ‘schnell-‘ (quick) portraits from spring to autumn for ages at various locations in Hungary and abroad. Gaining his subsistence alone cannot explain this passion, which pours out portraits by the hundreds and thousands. In the course of time, the artist has acquired brilliant technical skill, and the drawings in pencil and charcoal, and later the soft surfaces of oil-paint applied with the paintbrush and the details drawn with a good sense indicate strong individual ambitions, though the members of the international caste of quick-draw artists learn much from each other, and theirs is a real world art, where the most successful ones found a school.

This is then one of the trends in his carreer, beside which the large portraits appeared on the walls of the studio of the master school. The 150 cm wide DIPA surfaces, available in rolls have been placed on the wall and the well-modelled details of familiar faces emerged between the stripes of watery paint running down: Paul Klee, Jean Dubuffet.

It was clear why he had to create Large Faces with strong, large and free gestures, satisfying no demand but his own, over-writing and over-painting forced drawing.

Meanwhile, the third parallel trend was the painting of the delicate coulour-compositions of the dense pictures sewn-painted-drawn out of ready-found, torn-apart canvasses. These pictures appeared at the exhibitions of the master school, on the walls of galeries and in art-dealers’ shop-windows.

I had not seen Gyécsek József’s newer pictures when I was glad to hear last year that he would like to attend the course ‘Színerő’ in Pécs, which we held in the large empty workshops of the Zsolnay-factory and which was attended by doctoral candidates, old students of the master school and other invited artists as guests. Gyécsek József’s face-slices, and then the giant portraits painted on extensive surfaces of canvas appeared in the second round of the painting course ‘Színerő – léptékváltás’.

In the meantime, I could become acquainted with his series of portraits, painted in recent years, and the unusual sequences compiled of portraits cut up.

It is also part of the story that now, the models are not the idols, the artists who are admired and respected but the subjects of the most personal relationships. Each portrait was painted in a different way, with a different use of colours. The spots, splints, surfaces, the excitement of drawing with the paintbrush, the strong colours matching wildly or the fine-tuned juxtapositions appear in an inexhaustible richness on these large portraits. The occurrences of ripe, surprising, bitingly beautiful, fresh or shiveringly exciting colour encounters are taking place on the surface of the portraits in the rhythm of a representation that can be interpreted well.

How may the cutting up of the brilliant pictures have begun? What was the better solution the realization of which he put faith in, and so, he sacrificed them to piece together oblong pictures out of their parts, alternating with fields of raw or primed canvas, aligning vanishing, emerging and almost explicable glances, gestures of turning away, lips, cascades of hair and skin bends.

He wrote about this in a letter to me:

Dear Ilona,

to respond to your questions, I would like to write down a few more ‘staircase’ thoughts.
What is my message ‘to mankind’? Of course, I leave it to them to draw the conclusions as there was much that I understood only afterwards, while I was pondering the idea of cutting pictures up. So was e.g. the title (Entropy), which is a thermodynamic law about the cooling and disintegration of closed systems.
In my case, however, construction and the birth of a new unity is at least as emphatic as deconstruction.
What gave me an emotional impetus was a sort of compulsion of accounting for a part of the personal past.
As for the integration of memories – which is also an important element –, I wrote about it earlier. In certain moments of the ‘splitting up’, I became discouraged and so, I had mercy on a few larger parts, worked out perhaps better (since the sight was always the main organizer, of course) but I tried to remain consistent all along.

The pictures have the first and the last word.
Szentgyörgyhegy, October 2008

Ilona Keserü Ilona