New York

Miklos Pogany

Victoria Munroe Gallery

Miklos Pogany had already earned a Ph.D. in comparative literature when, in his late twenties, he devoted himself to art. Within a short time he had not only mastered the monotype medium but had made it an integral aspect of his approach to his subject matter. In this regard Pogany’s relationship to monotype bears comparison to Jasper Johns’ use of encaustic; for each, a particular medium serves as the key to a highly charged, psychologically reflexive process.

This exhibition of 20 recent works, all 1985, displayed the wide range of Pogany’s accomplishments in the monotype medium. Common to all the prints here is an abstract figural image made up of layered, interlocking geometric shapes, and suggesting a flattened-out, profile view of a hooded figure. The artist’s idiosyncratic method involves printing from a painted collage; a number of these works are printed on black paper, in a process that parallels the old masters’ technique of pulling imagery from a black ground. The print then becomes a scaffold on which Pogany piles up oil paint, pastel, colored pencil, and more collage. The process of layering with collage and color becomes emblematic of time, while the artist’s relentless reexamination of his characteristic shape transfigures it into a mythic presence—perhaps a demonic spirit, a ghostly woman, or a murderous monk. “Je est un autre,” as Arthur Rimbaud said: literally, I is the Other.

In this and an earlier series of work titled “Klarika,” 1980–85, Pogany has found a way to make abstraction convey a fictive possibility A successful marriage of technique and emotion has taken place, one that is reflexive yet open to speculation. Consequently, the viewer must complete each of these works by finding just where in Pogany’s narrative the image belongs. Looking becomes active involvement.

John Yau