Márta Hoffmann: Possible Gardens

When I first had to do a Rorschach test I had 84 associations already about the first picture. The psychologist asked me how many more I could say? As many as you want, I answered without hesitation.

For me Possible Gardens is a good work because I cannot have so many associations about it. It has a well defined autonomous world, its own framework in which one can go for a journey. And it leaves a trace in me when I am with it only for a few seconds.

In the first layer the forms are the most dominant: the anthropomorphic creatures, which bring to my mind an icon, a mask, a relief and a shadow-outline. Strangely enough for me they all are looking back, that is into the past. Therefore the whole picture brings forth feelings of being in the past and not in the present or in the future. On the other hand they give an inward rather than outward direction to the process of interpretation. The most dominant figure in the foreground recalls icon-heads of Lajos Vajda, but the classical orthodox icon-forms also. Compared to the enormous head, the thin and fragile neck-body radiates power- and defenselessness, greatness in mind and weakness in body at the same time. One may interpret the thin body as a stem which takes us towards of plantlike world, which is also reinforced by its growing out of the bottom edge of the paper, so the idea “earthboundness” also accrues. Due to their size the darker rounded patches in the upper right corner are interpreted according to their relationship to the formerly described icon-like form.
At the same time the second layer (the big Times Roman letters), and the third, closely written and framed text fragments bring a more material, more objective and more technical field into the interpretation. They push the figure like forms, which seemed up to this point so dominant, into the background and we are guided into a more real and rational world.

All this is crossed and at the same time framed in the foreground by a signature-scribble web, which is well known from the earlier works. This layer creates a real third dimension because against the little bit mystical and fearful spiritual world, and against the cognitive abstraction represented by the texts, it creates a fine, almost feminine, curtain-like floating world, which is a special kind of entrance to the garden even if we didn’t perceive it at the first glimpse. The colors of the picture, which, in spite of their great variety, are low-key, softened but rich, plentiful and sensual, also strengthen this feeling.

The greenish frame lines appearing in the background, which bring in the picture the dimensions of cultivation, order and composition, create a counterpoint to this fine fabric-like material.

To see the picture simply gives pleasure because if I let myself go and look at it in a way as I listen to music, many little details are revealed, which can recall memories, fears, pleasures and dreams. We are in a garden, which bears fruit for everybody who goes beyond the fence.

[23 May 2003. Archives Arnolfini, Szigetszentmiklós, 3. Arnolfini Spring (Garden) Festival, the opening speech at the exhibition of József Gábos, titled: Possible Gardens.]