Knox: Text and signature

Long time has passed since text fragments were first used in pictures as an artistic innovation.

On Picasso’s Avignon Landscape it is only one element of the collage and it is used as a constituent part of the picture. Naturally, inscriptions in the picture had also appeared previously, for example in the background of Holbein’s portraits. In the compositions of Lajos Kassák letters have a slightly different but genuine compositional function. Contemporary art also uses it, for example Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, George Segal, Claes Oldenburg or the new paintings of László Lakner (who lives abroad) in which he copied famous manuscripts, the palimpsests of Szlaukó, which are compositions from fragments of philosophical texts, and fragments of Péter Molnár where he used the text as a facture making element. It would be impossible to interpret those pictures without those inscriptions and letter fragments. Calligraphy, i.e. the hand written text is also re-elevated into modern art. The hand written text and it’s fragments as important elements make the painted world complete. Verbosity can suggest a world behind reality and, as a new layer, can enrich the message of the creator. Handwriting plays an important role as a personality feature. A well composed signature can certify a picture as a stamp.
József Gábos uses this a little bit narrowed down compositional element as a basic motif in his works which are displayed in Ferencvárosi Cellar Gallery. The signo, the signature as a narcissist gesture covers the whole surface of the picture as a texture-like monomaniacal signing. The signatures are blown up to different sizes, they construct a line-net and they create interwoven layers. Interestingly, it is not related to high art but the urban folk art, to grafitti. The gesture, the sign-leaving is similar to that of the members of the Special Decoration Squad who are working only with the logo of the name (tag).The sign-leaving in this case is also the repetition of the signature several hundred or even several thousand times in one picture.

However, it is different. As Ortega Y Gasset said, in every snapshot-like picture reality disappears completely and the viewer must construct a new world instead.
A virtual reality, the reality of the computer. József Gábos creates his works with the today still unusual means, the computer, and he uses it with such virtuosity like others use a pen.

At the exhibition a long and continuous series of variations are presented from a CD. This symbolizes the new reality, the almost incomprehensible quantity of pictures, or at least series of variations. The pictures on the wall are an excellent selection, a good cross-section from the works of the artist. We can see here works which are reminiscent of Kassák’s picture-architectures, as „Headlines”, woven together with a fine handwriting. But the „Fragrances” bring to mind the works of Jackson Pollock. The source could be probably the series „Signature collages” variations of which are screened. For me the series „Recycled” was one of the peaks because of its sketch-like nature and the handmade details. I don’t know what „Setubal” means (a city in Portugal- J.G.), but this gigantically blown up handwriting net, as the black becomes blue at the intersections before the broken white background became my second favorite.

[With reference to the exhibition of József Gábos, 15 October 2004., Ferencvárosi Pincegaléria, Budapest.]


Aláíráskollázs / Signature Collage No06
Szalagcím / Headline No05
Illat / Fragrance No79301
Aláíráskollázs / Signature Collage No05
Setubal / Setubal