Szurcsik József

szurcsik_jozsef-1He was always interested in the question: what was the source of the power in the ancient Egyptian societies to be able to maintain a stable hierarchy, where the depiction remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years. A kind of narrative was launched for him by the expressive power of the profile-depicted human heads. He experienced, imagined and developed a world, where the side-turned heads whisper to each other’s ears, because the ruling political force of the society can achieve such a leading power, that all the people afraid to tell the truth and their opinion.

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„The construction-like installation of the profile-depicted humanoid elements, faces and forms has an antitype: an 1986 particular graphic of mine, depicting whispering men’s profiles along a line. When I was in college, I made it for the cover of the „Hangár” audio-book (a Hungarian book distributed on tape casettes), requested by my friend, L. Császár, the author, living that time in the Netherlands. The tapes contained the works of the selected Hungarian and foreign writers, being usually read by the authors themselves.”

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He depicted only men at first, mainly infirm faces. Eventually faces smoothed, and the emotions became less and less important. The clearly masculine forms slowly disappeared. He constructed his large forms with unisex faces, causing uncertainty in the viewers, in which he closed his figures forever. “We send ourselves to solitary confinements, enwalling us with thousands of locks, chains, bars, both physically and figuratively. We are afraid that the sins and squalors of the outside world reach us, but in this way our living space becomes limited, even absurd, permanently.

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“For our security, we want to exclude all of bad things, but this would exclude the good as well, we cannot radiate outward our own goodness as well. On the street, we look on the others mistrustfully, while we would become acquainted, even opening a bright world, getting the greatest experiences of our lives, and making lifelong friendships, even if we meet nevermore perhaps. It does not come in our mind that it depends on us, walking past wonderful people. Lonely and full of fears, we doubt the happiness and the beauty of the life and the world. And this is extravagance!”

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“About three years ago I lifted my figures from their jailhouse, colors were gone, a strictly monochrome world dawned on me. A more realistic picture of the human body appeared. The heads often continued to be a cube. To these cube-like sculls you can fill a wide variety of information, without any classification.”

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“The ’Too Poor to be Rich, too Rich to be Poor’ and ‘Too White to be  Black, too Black to be White’ titles are fragments of live speech just grabbed. They suggest that inheriting the spiritual poverty, lack of culture and tolerance, demagogy, unprincipled lying, exclusion, petty jealousy, hate and fear to the next generations could be a problem of the whole society, but also the responsibility of the nearest environment. At least everyone should square up with himself individually!”

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“The sympathy in the mankind must not disappear! According to my expertise in the US, funerals have become rapidly developing parties. Earlier, one or two people deceased each year in a given community. It was enough time to process the loss, to say goodbye, to weep and to outlive the grief. Today the world pours on us the terrible tragedies. The human ability to process the tragedies cannot keep up with the flood of mass deaths. For defense, we want to come through the mourning. In my pictures the figures, seemingly grieving, are ashamed, but the vivid colors betray that they are all adrift, and this is a false play.


“In my pictures the figures emerging from the landscape, the cube and house-like people, bricked soothsayers, the little gods, the great gods, the evil-courageous-meek-frail people sometimes blacken, sometimes become color again behind the cracked plaster, symbol of the timelessness, the angry facial features sometimes are to refine, then to harden. Behind each picture there is a long story. “


Munkácsy-díj (1997)


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