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Tibor Pogonyi, Marten Kirbach

April, 2018

It was 1935 when the philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) undertook a historical evaluation of art in modern times in his essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. In this essay, he decried the fact that the media of photography and film had permanently changed art and its mode of reception, montaged and fragmented artwork having taken the place of the self-contained work of art. In addition, the contemplative perception of a unique original would be increasingly superseded by the distracted perception of the copies of artworks distributed on a massive scale. Within this context, Benjamin speaks of a decay of the aura of  artwork, symptomatic of that age.

Today, more than 80 years after its publication, in the age of the “digital modern”, his essay has lost almost none of its topicality. Ceaselessly surrounded by ultrahigh-resolution, hyperrealistic imagery – which impinges on us over every airwave and data highway as a constant flood of pictures – our viewing habits, experiences and associated attention spans have changed dramatically. Contemplative viewing of unique original works or allowing oneself to be “drawn into” the aura of a work of art, has today become rare, despite the fact that the number of peo-ple visiting museums is constantly increasing.


The two painters Marten Kirbach (*1979) and Tibor Pogonyi (*1974) stand up resolutely against the resulting esthetic vacuum with their remarkable oeuvre. Despite their contrasting artistic methods, both are united by their aspiration to make the essence of painting and its immanent truth tangible for the viewer. In the NEW DIALOGS exhibition, the paintings of Kirbach and Pogonyi are impressive demonstrations of this. It is a meeting of equals, which throws the historically evolved dualism between abstract and figurative painting out of the window. The focus is on the existential struggle of painting and people in times of the digital modern. Kirbach’s abstract works call for unconditional contemplation and critical questioning of one’s own perception in an everyday world characterized by accelerated experiences, virtual reality constructs and the conflict between the inner and the outer. In the critical examination of painting per se and its elements, he confronts the viewer with a pictorial reality that is just as ambivalent, and which tries to newly differentiate the relationship between perception and reality, copy and depiction, illusion and truth, with overlaying, breaks in perspective, spatial conflicts, overlap-ping and penetrations.

Picking up on the formal language of the old masters, Tibor Pogonyi’s vibrant paintings “draw in” viewers, an effect they find difficult to escape. In his works, he grapples with the existentialist questions of the human condition and of painting. Accordingly, against the perfection of his technical mastery – on both the formal and the content level – he quite specifically sets the emphasis in his paintings on the imperfect, on the incomplete and on the break. Against the backdrop of a digital modern demythologized and streamlined by algorithms and artificial intelligence, his both visually stunning and mystically charged work seems like a radical counter plan that, with the force of its pathos, leads people back to the roots of their being and their own identity.


Preview Thursday April 26, 2018

Westenriederstr. 41, Munich

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