Tibor Csernus: Shadows of Paris

Date: 08/May/2019 - 30/August/2019
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The urban scenes Tibor Csernus painted in the 1990s – against the earlier daylight street views – are usually set in and around bars and cafés, at night. Sunlight gives way to the eerie glare of streetlights and neon signs, with prostitutes, dissolute bohemians and shady-looking characters appearing among the tourists and passers-by, like the cast of a film noir. The transition between the two types is probably represented by the boxing hall scenes, presented in an expressive gloom, smelling of sweat. Even when empty, the bright ring that aggressively jumps forward from the background is suggestive of violence.

The Place Émile-Goudeau, a square close to his studio, always busy with tourists and young people, provides the theme of a complete series, in which he sought to record the impulsive view with painting. He himself often becomes a character in the urban scenes, which thus become personalized and form a painted journal. The compositions, which make for a spontaneous feel, entice the viewer to become involved, with the figures staring at her and inviting her with their gestures; while a disinterested stance is denied, Csernus keeps revealing the painted nature of this lifelike world.

His visual adaptations of E. A. Poe’s deeply psychological short stories, which occupied him during his last creative period, even went beyond to merely illustrate the text: these pictures are testimonies of the joy of the painting, the Art, himself and the human being. In The Murders in the Rue Morgue he concentrates on the figure of the orangutan, which in the story kills a woman and her daughter in their own home. What he is interested in is how the series of events unfolding in time can be condensed into a single image; how the continuous chain of motion can be recreated on the canvas. In the story of The Cask of Amontillado, the revenging narrator walls his chained friend in a Venice cellar. The bold cuts, the emphatically diagonal arrangement, and the powerful chiaroscuro add to the muted drama of the compositions. The pieces he made after Poe’s The Raven, in which he depicted himself in the situation presented by the poem, are particularly moving as these were the last works, he painted. As if his own compositions allowed the old painter’s tormented and emaciated body to face the black bird of death as it croaked: Nevermore!

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Kogart House

Opening hours: from 10 a.m to 5 p.m.