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Pál Salamon: Paperwork

"The uniqueness of a work of art is equivalent to its embeddedness in the context of tradition. This tradition itself is, of course, very much alive, very variable. For example, an ancient statue of Venus had a different traditional context for the Greeks, who made it an object of worship, than for the medieval churchmen, who saw it as a dangerous idol. But what was the same in both cases was the uniqueness, or in other words the aura, of the statue," writes Walter Benjamin in his essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. In the terms of the quoted text, in an age of astonishing development and of great change that overrides all precedents, and even beyond, Pál Salamon works with objects - mainly pieces of paper - that have no cult or surplus content, and thus thinks purely about aura and detachment without particular associations of meaning. 

When I came here this morning to see Salamon's work in the exhibition space, there was a photographer here taking pictures of the material. The recipient of the photograph will have a particularly difficult task: he will not see a reproduction of a painting or other work of art created in a single stage, a single phase of creation, where the spheres of origin and reproduction, the artist's handprint and the data set of the digital image are clearly distinct, nor will he see a digital, printed photograph, a camera- or scanner-processed copy, where the unobstructed reproduction, the interlocking of spheres, is also clear, a characteristic of the work of art. 

Salamon's works consist of: a piece of paper, which may have a physical-unique or a printed-reproducible fold, or both, and the one-time, in-plane unreconstructable relationship of these is the work itself. Or the paper may be intact, and the relationship between the glued on-unique extensions and the printed-reproducible planes glued to it creates the work. Or the paper may be torn, and the torn shape may appear on the paper, printed with its shadow as a highlighted detail on the incomplete original. The print may end on the paper, or it may extend beyond the frame and continue as a physical reality in itself. 

The reason why the reproductions of Salamon's works are divided into several stages, beyond the general doubt about reproducibility, is that it is uncertain what the viewer of the reproduction of the work can see, as the essence of the artist's work, its most characteristic feature, is that he creates a dialectic between one and many, between original and copy. 

The order of the works here demonstrates Salamon's subtle modulations and shifts, that is, the interlocking creative thinking and practice itself. The artist starts from something fundamental, such as the cross motif or the interaction of part and whole, and, as a combinatorial problem, dissects the variability of printed, cut, stitched, glued form, light and shadow, positive and negative. 

Some of the works here reinterpret an artefact, an artwork, a found footage, independent of the framed paper, as the object that both represents and integrates the cardboard pallet, or the yellow zigzag that continues the image with the original. Elsewhere, however, it is clear that Salamon does not even need to use embeddable quotations to illustrate his dilemmas. He is exploring the most elemental, inherent potential of that piece of paper. This is what the whole material of the exhibition can be traced back to, expressed in the radical reduction and self-containment of the oldest work in the exhibition, with the incomplete paper and its torn corner. 

Playfulness and misguided perception are important in the work, but Salamon is not merely moved by the trickery of op-art. He questions the meaning and limits of representation in a serious and vital way – just like cave drawing, camera obscura, photogram and analogue film does in various ways.  

I open the exhibition in the mischievous spirit of humor and illusionism, as well as in the grand spirit of appropriation-representation and destruction-preservation. 

Simon Petri-Lukács

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