Review by Gábor Rieder of Márton Nemes's solo exhibition at the King St Stephen Museum.

Márton Nemes: Tomorrow
March 30 - May 5, 2019
King St. Stephen Museum, Székesfehérvár, Hungary


Prophecy of Tomorrow

Honestly speaking, I might not bet on that future scenario that seems depicted at first sight in Marton Nemes’s solo show in the old museum of his home town, Székesfehérvár: white splashes, metal bars and neon colors. The title of the exhibition is the super-ambitious ‘Tomorrow’, putting the artist in the position of a future-teller shaman. Getting older and older, after a few totally convincing but turned-to-be-false predictions, I just consider the so-called “future” as an individual narrative we design through our personal filter based on our special selections of facts around us. I am pretty sure that my “tomorrow” is not like a neon colored techno scenes left after an acid party, so let’s focus on the artist’s vision.

'The great artist of tomorrow will go underground' – prognosticated the biggest prophet of the avant-garde, Marcel Duchamp. And he was totally wrong. There could be a possible future when the great artist goes underground, but we are witnessing the most glorious days of the contemporary art stars, only comparable to the golden age of the Painter Princes (Malerfürst) in the late 19th Century. Young artists are migrating to the art centers seeking their fortune in the biggest art capitals. And so did Márton Nemes, one of the most talented representative of the tiny Hungarian elite club of the Millennials, who did a fantastic show ‘Shaping Reality’ at his Budapest gallery in 2017 as his final act in Hungary, exhibited his gorgeous geometric elements (‘Temporary Edges’) holding together with orange stretcher straps like the goodwill does with the fragmented ice-floats. And Nemes stood on the tip of the iceberg, on the unquestionable peak of his carrier, exhibited together with Tamás Hencze, an old master from the famous Iparterv Generation in their duo show ‘Shaping Reality’, and instead of enjoying the victorious moment (and waiting for the period of the unambitious self-replicas), he left for London immediately, and started a new carrier. And it worked. Now he is represented by the emerging East London gallerist, Annka Kultys.

At first he had to forget almost everything that he had studied before. The multi-ethnic London scene did not care about his heroes coming from the local avant-garde tradition and the golden boys of the Iparterv Group. “Marton, this is bullshit, you art is about techno” – he was told often, while taking part in crazy acid parties, and talking about his art enthusiastically (as he always does). Those were not the days of dirty punks in London, Nemes fell in love with the police sirens and the flashy design of the light-reflecting adhesive foils on the cars as the sexiest thing in the UK. And added them in his new art works, on the top of the fabricated structures and shaped canvases. The ‘PolicePainting’ series has developed into the ‘PoliceParty’ series made of aluminium, pvc, mirror paper, reflective vinyl and industrial paint. Music off, cars with siren just arrived in the crowded off-road party scene, as a kind of “deus ex machina” at the height of the event. (‘High all the Time’ – suggests his most raging works with the mirrored surfaces.)

The young painter once started as follower of the ex-DDR Leipzig School, then a multilayered and overcolored abstract artist, finally became a rampant DJ, an urban shaman, a mesmerizing Messenger healer, and an unintentional self-destroyer. Searching for unlimited happiness in the Temporary Autonomous Zones, aka emotional shelters, he has been chased by the rhapsodic nature of rapid love. As strangers caused scratches on his overflowed soul by Tinder accidents, he hurt his pure white canvases too, and then beautifully fixed the edges of the injuries with vivid laser-cut perspex “jewels”. Like in a tribal ritual. ‘PourInPourOut’, as the title says as a spiritual coach on his most melancholic series.

And then came the new body of works by Nemes, the glorious ‘Tomorrow’ from 2019, the big synthesis, combining all the former parts in a new majestic puzzle. That is not the “tomorrow” of a science-fiction movie, not a doomsday, not even a personal prophecy. That’s the next day following the big event, the sober reality of a screaming hangover day, the abandoned stages of a techno party, the creased sheets of a bumpy bed. No zombies, but your own fragile soul. Partly overwhelmed by the most vivid memories from the last day, white paint gestures, airbrush marks, perspex jewels, metal clips, reflective vinyls, and on the other hand the blankly space, the white emptiness on the wall framed by the colorful industrial bars and the immature pale woods. You can choose your tomorrow, you can choose your future, even under the warming sun. And this possibility of the free will is glowing through the abandoned remains of the last days, as a little hope in the vibrating prophecy of ‘Tomorrow’ by Márton Nemes.

Gábor Rieder


Photo: Courtesy of the artist, Annka Kultys, London, and Deák Erika, Budapest, photo by Dávid Biró