Atilla Szücs

Listing some of the elements Attila Szücs has employed in his work (Christmas lights, jewelry boxes, old postcards, Polaroids, rose petals, sugar cubes) puts one well on the way to sketching out a sensibility that takes the outside world into account while revealing itself in minutiae primarily culled from that ever-suspect category of the sentimental, a category that Szücs would unashamedly place on the heels of the sublime. Szücs’ repertoire of images is so potentially vast that it never overwhelms the quality of restraint in his work; rather, it suggests a considered and personal logic, albeit one that is never fully disclosed.

Szücs rarely presents these elements just as they are: they are sometimes lead or plaster casts, and are often stuck on canvas in the manner of clippings held by fridge magnets, their significance born of caprice. They start to work like a good story, told in a crisp, soft voice, that slowly gathers form. The superfluous details of the tale are evocative and surprising enough to have a visceral effect.

His most recent show was a familiar unfolding of bits and pieces. Even the most straightforward oil painting, Lack of Landscape (all works 1994), had an unexpectedly fragmentary quality. In this lush, green landscape, an oval appears to the right, distinguished from the rest of the painting primarily by the shift in the direction of the brushwork, a sudden evidence of the hand of the artist that suggests he is entreating the viewer to enter this world constructed of chance. This act of dissociation becomes a way of renewing and refreshing the artist's relationship with his own internal life. In Bed Feeling, the bottom half of a jewelry box is flooded with plaster in which a black and white postcard of a sumptuous bed and a round surface of graphite are embedded. The smooth hard surface of graphite becomes as enticing as bare skin, while the plaster mimics the cool expanse of clean sheets. The aura of the photo transforms and is transformed by the materials around it. In Coordinates, the figure of a lone (lost?) skier (another postcard) is introduced. It is fixed onto a long plaster panel interrupted by vertical and horizontal creases that looks as though it is cast from a neatly folded piece of paper.

Szücs clips, arranges, casts, gets under, and extends the images' surface. But, finally it is his focus on the image pool of exhausted sentiment coupled with his refusal to distance himself from it that the viewer, slightly embarrassed yet quietly moved, is left with.

Diane Kingsley