Attila Csörgö

Galerija Gregor Podnar

The beauty of mathematics is not something one often considers when walking through Berlin’s galleries. Attila Csörgö’s show “Magnet Spring” was an exception. The Hungarian artist, born in 1965, visualizes physical forces in settings resembling experiments, making their complex nature graspable in a simple but not simplistic way. In 2007, he showed a groundbreaking piece that crystallizes his approach to the mathematic arts: Untitled (1 tetrahedron + 1 cube + 1 octahedron = 1 dodecahedron), 2000. On a metal rack one can see a cube, a pyramid, and a double pyramid made of thin wooden sticks. Then they start to move: Attached to the wood are strings, which small motors move and thus pull the wood apart. It all seems random until the sticks come together to form a dodecahedron. Csörgö uses such Platonic solids to create a tension between the abstract, perfect order of geometric forms and the fragility of quotidian human constructions.

Magnet Spring, 1991, is a Minimalist cube of twelve glass panes held upright by small magnets between each pane. Csörgö uses the forces of attraction and repulsion to hold the glass in perfect balance: Magnets of different polarization are placed directly next to one another, so that the glass stands upright even though nothing directly supports it. From the side the viewer can see the carefully constructed equilibrium; from the front it looks as if the magnets are defying gravity and floating in midair. In contrast to this kind of orderly composition, Csörgö uses kinetic forces to assemble images by chance in Drawing Machine, 1992. On a flat glass plane bearing a layer of black metal powder, drawings seem to form of their own accord: First what looks like a leaf out of a paisley pattern can be seen, then a heart shape, then the line goes on to form abstract circles. How? Under the glass plane, a turntable moves a magnet fixed on two revolving axes. The images the magnet continuously creates and destroys range from the kitschy (conjuring hearts drawn in the sand or in the foam of a cappuccino) through the meditative calm of Buddhist mandalas to the complexity of fractals.

In recent pieces, Csörgö examines the relationship between time and the viewer. He built a slit camera that moves in a circle while turning upside down (Möbius Space Camera, 2006); the resulting image, Möbius Space (Ujpest I), 2006, is a one-sided panorama twisted into a transparent Möbius strip—no beginning, no end, and countless perspectives. It does not capture a snapshot of one moment but a single image of a series of moments. Again, Csörgö endows a complex form with an easily comprehensible image. In doing so, he reminds us that mathematics is far too beautiful and disquieting to leave to the mathematicians.

Daniel Boese