Helen Tóth's solo exhibition curated by Ivana Moncolova at Turiec Gallery in Martin, Slovakia.
Helen Tóth: The Endless Tree
Curated by Ivana Moncoľová
July 15 - September 30, 2021
Turiec Gallery, Martin, Slovakia
Helena Tóthová (also Helen Tóth, 1992) is a graduate of Painting at the Academy of fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. She works in the medium of drawing, photography, painting and installation. A strong theme of her works is nature in it´s fragment, cut-out. The tree is it´s proxy symbol. Helen Tóth comes from a generation of artists who grew up in a strongly "visualised world" and the encounter and coexistence with this world and the finding of it´s counterbalance is related to her work.
In history, with the onset of industrialization, the technicization of the world (at the end of the 19th century and the turn of the 20th century), we encountered philosophical currents as parallels in the visual arts, where authors and artists took refuge in nature and it's personification in human life. Sometimes it was a search for a spiritual path, at other times it was an inclination towards anthropomorphism, the result of one's own idea of seeing the world. At other times nature could be a spiritual space; in German Romanticism nature was a mirror of men, man/artist was a pilgrim in it. It was the technical acceleration of the world that fascinated some artistic figures. And conversely paralysed some artistic figures so much that they resorted to founding they own chambers in nature. Nature became the studio. Often this understanding of art, with it´s overlaps into mysticism, spirituality, hermitage, had a romantic tinge in it´s understanding of the beautiful. It was an idealistic and psychological understanding of the esthetics of nature. The concept of the authors "I" or immediate experience of self, intuition, was strong in the concept of artmaking. At the end of the 1960's the ecological concept of understanding and protecting nature was added, which is still very relevant today, and also in visual art.
Helen Tóth is an artist whose transition from childhood to adulthood took place in the zero years of the 21st century, in the era of new media, the mass use of social networks and decline of personal, social contact. She is an author who experienced both pre and after era in her childhood. Social media, which has brought a fluidity of information, is a good tool, but the rate at which it fills our time and our living in a hurried world takes a toll on our mental as well as physical health. The media war between television, advertising and the internet is escalating in a multitude of people and their desire to return to nature in different ways, like the principle of finding our own equilibrium. As we have seen from history with rapid technological progress there is always a society of people who take refuge in a world without technization. Helen Tóth is an artist who uses technical achievements to realise her artistic intention (digital and analogue photography, digital maps and GPS coordinates)., she treats the use of social networks as a compulsory ride of necessity of every artist, although she would prefer to be without them, She sees them as a powerful polarizer of society, the basis for the unification of art, the adaption of artistic models that deviate from personal, authorial authenticity. In her work, Helen Tóth thinks of the tree and the forest as fundamental elements of nature. For her, walking in the forest as a space, whose experience is one off balance is fundamental. Fragmentarily, she selects fallen tree branches from it, which serve as an initiation model/stimulus for her painting in the studio. In painting, she combines intuition and paintwork as well as memory for experience of the forest. Sometimes the stimulus for the painting is a black and white drawing of the forest or tree made on the basis of a combination of memory and the photograph. Tree branches collected in the artist´s studio become the basis for her installation in the gallery space. She expands painting and drawing into the gallery space. Using the medium of installation, she creates an environment out of painting and natural history. She returns the used parts of nature, branches back to their environment after use (but first she paints them with non natural colors), then photographs them in their original forest environment. She gives the viewer direction on where to find them using GPS coordinates. The author defines herself as a long time collector (nor a hunter) of objects of natural origin, the exhibition she pays tribute to the first Slovak botanist, Izabela Textorisová, who spent most of her time researching the flora around Martin city, especially Veľká Fatra and Gaderská Valley and recorded and described ew and rare plant from this area.
The artist Helen Tóth works in a system of discovery and collection, i.e. like a botanist, she does not have scientific ambitions, but she concentrates in several forests in different parts of Slovakia. But sometimes she instructs friends/audience to selectively bring her samples of the forest they choose. She then creates micro environments from them and preserves them as a kind of three dimensional herbarium.
Photo: Zdeno Ziman