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Krisztián Frey

Rohadt meleg kezd lenni

[It’s Getting Too Damn Hot] 

13 January - 10 February 2023

Opening Speech by Júlia Fabényi (13 January 2023)

„Dealing with Krisztián Frey always leads to discoveries, a multitude of surprises and ideas emerge when looking at his works, it’s like peeling back layers, but it never happens all at once, it always takes time. We can state that he was in fact a great artist, and it all came from an anarchist attitude, as that was his destiny.

He was never admitted to any higher education institution because of the stigma attached to his origin. What was this stigma? He knew, or felt, that it was trivial, but if it could make anyone in Hungary in the 1950s such an outcast, there was no meaningful struggle that could possibly have gone against it. His father, Dr. Antal Tiszamarti, published a nice book with a rather strange title, which was politicized by those who could barely read or nota bene illiterates, thus sealing the fate of the family. The title of the textbook was ImmaculateHungarianness (1941, Budapest), in which he gives instructions on the correct use of language to doctors and publicists. Anyone who reads it will not understand the unforgivable mistake or sin that prevented the child from ever attending university. On the one hand a loss, on the other hand, in terms of the direction of art, it is fortunate, as the oeuvre was able to unfold freely, unbridled, on a path of which László Lakner, another of our very distinguished painters, said it took him years to put aside the approach he was taught in college and reach the point of free expression. This unjustified punishment casts a shadow over the rest of their lives, but I suppose if there is no way out of such a frivolous slander, then Krisztián Frey could not be expected to everconform to any illiterate system.


Last year’s exhibition at the Ludwig Museum explored this versatile Frey for art history, who worked in great freedom. Thanks to Gábor Einspach and Gábor Rieder for making this exhibition possible. At least 180 works presented in six chapters revealed Frey’s greatness. Here you could see that Frey’s every move was an experiment, but he got it perfect every time. Scriptural art, informel andmathematical trends - with musical or linguistic analysis - were able to function because they incorporated the power of independence, because they operated with a freedom that did not seek to conform, but to unfold, to reveal. He was also looking for layers by repainting, rewriting and describing, adding letters to sounds, using the blackboard as a picture, as a message wall, and the writing became a picture. His system was being outside the system, the work is a natural impulse, and the painting itself is relevant because of its unlimitedmateriality. Mr Frey writes - the practice, Herr Frey is frei - the fact.


It’s Getting Too Damn Hot, he says in 1993. Is this a message or a picture? Writing is an alibi for painting, or painting facilitates writing, because if itcontinued, perhaps the message, which is not exhibitionist, would be more interesting. Rather cheerful, or maybe not cheerful, but questionable.


Frey was very versatile, but because he didn't take himself seriously, he didn’t put much emphasis on being considered educated or diverse. His turns of thought - like the messages in his paintings - were at times so surprising, deep and plucked from layers of other philosophies that his audience successfully gasped in surprise - then they continued drinking.


In the 1990s, he moved back to Budapest, producing mostly small-format calligraphic works on paper with complex spontaneous quotations. And then came more and more anxiety, hiding from life, fear of death, and he began to question the meaning of existence, but then very seriously. There was no more winking.”

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