Zsófia Keresztes, Untitled, 2023, polystyrene, glass mosaics, construction adhesive, steel, cement joint, fiberglass mesh, spirit levels, 86 1⁄4 × 46 × 44 7⁄8".

Zsófia Keresztes, Untitled, 2023, polystyrene, glass mosaics, construction adhesive, steel, cement joint, fiberglass mesh, spirit levels, 86 1⁄4 × 46 × 44 7⁄8".

Zsófia Keresztes

Indulging in an aesthetics that falls somewhere between that of Buddhist temple guardian statues and that of Chupa Chups lollipop packaging, Zsófia Keresztes has developed a unique style of sculpture. Reminiscent of Catalan Art Nouveau, the artist’s large organic shapes are made of polystyrene covered in small mosaic tiles. These forms are often perched on top of each other like cairns, their contours dripping like cake frosting, or they might lie on the floor in long, winding wormlike shapes. The palette of the tesserae, with tones ranging from pale orange to fleshy pink and baby blue, would make a candy store jealous. In “After Dreams: I Dare to Defy the Damage,” the Hungarian pavilion at the 2022 Venice Biennale, Keresztes embraced anthropomorphism. Two large eyes hung on either side of the entrance, with a giant teardrop above, creating a kind of portal that cast the pavilion as a temple. In Venice, the artist interrupted the surfaces of her works with elements foreign to their aesthetic: Chains tethered certain objects to the walls, and metal shelves created a contrast to the otherwise immaculately tiled sculptures.

For her solo show “Fruits of Per­sistence,” Keresztes again piled up biomorphic shapes covered in pastel-hued mosaics. The sculptures resembled ancient deities that had time-traveled to a New Age cult of trippy colors and indiscriminately merged species. The most prominent, Untitled, 2023, features a humanoid figure standing on four legs that ended in elongated bubbles of light blue, suggesting feet. Each of the four limbs joins with the bulges above it, forming four columns topped by two pairs of emerald hands. Three apples with faces are squeezed at the center of these four bulbous pillars. Fence, 2022, could be either separate figures in silhouette or a double-headed dancer doing the splits on the floor. Spirit levels connect the form’s splayed extremities, turning the sculpture into a partition that cordoned off from the front of the exhibition space several smaller sets of wormlike sculptures—Soft Alliance I.–VI., all 2022.

While the figure in Untitled echoes representations of the Hindu deity Lakshmi, a goddess of wealth and good fortune, the posture and arrangement of Fence recalls depictions of Durga, a many-armed goddess of war sometimes said to fight for the oppressed; she is typically portrayed bearing weapons in her numerous hands. Here, the mason’s levels that connect the widespread arms and legs of Fence carry the potential to become this goddess-like figure’s attributes: emblematic not of war but of equilibrium.

Keresztes blends all of these different visual cues into her own original esoteric iconography, yet to be fully deciphered. “Fruits of Persistence,” as a title reminiscent of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, could be read as a biblical reference, particularly as the only “fruit” to be found on display were the apples—an image of temptation and a favorite food of worms. With this symbolism, Keresztes explores the close ties between politics and religious concepts, despite their often contradictory meanings and functions. Her sculptures ask what it takes to establish equilibrium.