Zsófi Barabás - Urban Histology

Zsófi Barabás - Urban Histology

2014-02-28

26 February – 21 March 2014

Opening night: 25 February 2014, 6 pm


In the beginning of 2013 Zsófi Barabás spent two months in Frankfurt in the framework of the residency exchange programme of Budapest Gallery. The exhibition entitled Urban Histology in Faur Zsófi Gallery showcases the works that were inspired by the weeks in the city by the river Main.

While working in her studio at Atelier Frankfurt, the most influential visual stimuli included the structure of the studio’s lattice window, the prism-shaped containers behind it, the tower of the European Central Bank which resembles a space rocket launching station, and the burning-red colored block of the Portikus contemporary exhibition space. These are the buildings and architectural details that appear in their organic compositions, rewritten in clean scale-model-like forms, producing an exciting tension between the two types of visual culture. These do not repel each other, but they do not create organic mixes either; yet, they cooperate somehow.

The organic devours the geometric – most of our physical surroundings are made up of perpendiculars and parallels, yet human beings are organic. In her recent works Zsófi Barabás undermines exactly this power relationship: however, she does not achieve this subversion by a simple exchange of the superior element with the subordinate one, but rather by the juxtaposition of the two.

Zsófi Barabás says that in her practice of painting she looks for structures with the help of ‘color tones’, yet her most recent period seems to suggest that as well as the primacy of color schemes and references to nature, her pictures have more to do with the built environment than anyone has ever imagined. The urban scenery proved to be influential on her work on several levels: for example, her tangle-motifs in 2009 originated in overhead wires seen in Tokyo, and in 2007 she created a whole series of works entitled Berlin. In her compositions, we cannot only recognize the microscopic view of biology, but also the throbbing sceneries of imagined city structures with their overlapping districts, parks, rivers, and the interweaving and disjointed web of track in railway stations. In this sense, the perspective of these pictures may remind us of the bird`s eye view of aerial photos, while the vivid colors seem to make the spatial distribution of life behind walls visible with the help of thermal imaging. In the continuously changing metropolitan complexity of cluster-like or loosely adhering fragmented zones, the central element keeps shifting: the periphery may become the centre, and the centre may turn into a periphery. In Barabás` drawings and canvases one can observe recurrent movements and relations, forms that keep emptying out and filling up, connecting and disconnecting, contracting and unraveling. The extensions do not originate from one point, but from many, so as to spread over the whole surface.

The city - this network of overlapping, continuously moving communities and complexes - is often compared to a living organism, a being with or without a definite form that has its own intrinsic laws and mechanisms. It is a living tissue, where the organic meets the geometric. With Barabás` compositions made in Frankfurt, we seem to enter the depths of this bustling urban world. The perspective multiplies, there are close-ups of the architecture that can be interpreted both as samples taken from the tissue of the city, and as momentarily flashing street views.
(Zsolt Mészáros)


Zsófi BARABÁS (1980, Budapest) graduated from the Departments of Graphic Design, Visual Education and Painting at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts in 2004. Thanks to the Monbukagakusho Scholarship, she studied at the Tokyo University of the Arts (Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku) in 2009. She participated in residency programmes several times for instance in Rauma and Porvoo (Finland), in Darmstadt and Frankfurt (Germany) and took courses at the Sommerakademie Salzburg. She is currently a student in the Doctoral Programme of the Faculty of Music and Visual Arts at the University of Pécs. Her works are continuously displayed in both solo shows and selected for curated group exhibitions. Her master is Ilona Keserü.

Zsófi Barabás exhibited together with Imre Bak in Faur Zsofi Gallery in the framework of the show entitled Nonfigurations in 2012. Urban Histology is her first solo show in the gallery.