Géza Kovács Hungarian sculptor was born in 1958 in Târgu Mures, Romania.
. He had 109 individual exhibitions in Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Switzerland and Slovakia and participated in 342 collective expositions in Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, China, Hungary, Germany, Republic of Moldavia, Romania, Sweden, Spain, Slovakia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the USA.
He is an awarded artist, being distinguished with twenty-four art prizes in France, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Spain.
In 2007, as recognition of his artistic activity, the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture awarded him a state distinction – the “Pro Cultura Hungarica” Memorial Plaquette. In 2009 the president of Romania has distinguished the sculptor with the order of knighthood of Romanian Culture for his artistic creation.
At present 103 artworks of his are part of 81 public collections in Great Britain, Bulgaria, Japan, China, Hungary, Republic of Moldavia, Italy, Romania, Sweden, Spain and Slovakia.
His small sculptures can also be found in private collections in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Romania, Switzerland and Sweden.
He is a member of the Association Internationale des Arts Plastiques (AIAP) Paris (F), of the Association of Hungarian Fine and Applied Artists (MKISZ) Budapest (H), of the Romanian Fine Arts Union (UAP) Bucharest (RO).
THE PRESENCE OF THE PAST, THE PAST OF THE PRESENCE
About Géza Kovács’s Sculpture
Besides the Hungarian sculptors carrying out their activity in Transylvania, the Hungarian sculptors living and working in Hungary and the Hungarian sculptors who moved from Transylvania to Hungary (and in exceptional cases from Hungary back to Transylvania), there is a type of sculptor, existing in a weird artist’s position, living under the conditions of the strange state of being of the artist, embodied by Géza Kovács: the sculptor roaming in the Carpathian basin, commuting between Transylvania and the Hungarian regions confined by Trianon borders which have become symbolic by now. He is both there and here – depending on from where we consider and judge our situation as well as his situation and being aware of the fact that we are both those who judge others and those who are judged by others –, regardless of which side of the border he is on, here and there, and also there and here, and always on the road, because he would somehow like to catch up with his collections wandering about in this territory divided by more and more unsecure borders; he would like to catch up with his works sent here and there and left here and there, as many of them probably already live a totally individual life. These work collections and works of art have turned up in the most various Middle-European settlements ever since the turn of the eighties and nineties of the last century; for a short while they can be admired in the capital, in county towns, in small towns and villages, in museums, exhibition halls or galleries and they soon move further. The number of exhibitions registered in the register of individual exhibitions, presenting Géza Kovács’s works is soon close to the hundred: the artist born in 1958 in Târgu Mures, who studied at the Technological University from Cluj at the end of the seventies and at the beginning of the nineties, and who worked as a mechanical engineer in Sfântu Gheorghe for long years, presented his first works in front of the public in the second half of the 1980s, then he devoted all his time and energy to sculpture. An extraordinarily active and intense, three-decade-long career, linking distant spaces, is behind Géza Kovács sculptor: besides the exhibition forums from Transylvania and Hungary, his works reached the exhibition halls from Germany, France, Sweden and Japan, since 1990 the sculptor has taken part in the activity of several artist-sites from Hungary – like that from Mez?túr, Vaja, Nagyatád, Cserszegtomaj, Vigántpetend –, where he has had the opportunity to create some monumental compositions as well, and all throughout his artistic adventures he has been awarded several exhibition and competition prizes. In the series of these prizes the first one, giving him tremendous impetus, was the recognition of the Sándor K?rösi Csoma competition from Covasna in 1992. It is a further important element of his biography, of his career that Géza Kovács works as member of several artistic-professional organizations, and his works have become by now part of several prestigious public collections. So, it can be concluded that the Géza Kovács-oeuvre has become an unavoidable aspect of the Middle-European Hungarian art of the decades before and after the turn of the century.
The artistic initiatives of the twentieth century shook the foundations of the classic artistic ideals: the artists of avantgarde trends and their works of art questioned every convention used earlier for thousands of years in the field of sculpture and artistic object formation and they created an artistic universe based on new values, in terms of a new spirit and a new practice. The subject of sculpture, its technique and material, the concept of the work of art all changed, and as a consequence, the status of the work of art also changed. The biggest change was the fact that the earlier exclusive principle of representing humans and animals was exiled to the aesthetic rubbish heap: in the turmoil of the avantgarde trends, in the succession of different styles it was possible for everything to become a sculpture, and the materials of the sculptures, carefully selected earlier – the bronze, the marble, the wood – were replaced by any material occurring in everyday life. The sophisticated rendering of the works of art was no longer a requirement: since the activity of Duchamp and Picasso it had become possible that a found object got on the pedestal or in the display cabinet, this found object could be a junk, an everyday cheap stuff; that is, the gesture of pointing at the object, of removing it from its original environment, of its being considered a work of art was enough. In the process of declaring the found object, the finished product a work of art, the method of creating object collages has become an independent area; it creates new constructs out of different elements synthetised as requisites by the passing of time, often independent of one another, originally not belonging to one another. The artist from Sfântu Gheorghe, Géza Kovács, working in the spirit of classical avantgarde endeavours, creates such objects, object collages. Although from time to time among his works of art there appear bronze or aluminium compositions created by modelling and moulding or there appear works of art carved out of wood – indicating that the artist also pursues activity in the traditional branches of sculpture –, the periods of creation before the turn of the millenium and the works created in the first decade of the new millenium prove that he is primarily and basically attracted towards the iron and steel object collages. Of course the use of material, mass formation, space organization as well as the way of expression of the modelled-moulded bronze sculptures and those of the requisite-objects assembled as collages are so radically different – among the bronze and aluminium sculptures there appears the concrete figure, the human shape as well, and on these works the surfaces, the superficies gain emphasis –, however, the sameness and mnemonic character of evocation still creates a consonance between the two distinct parts of sculpture.
As we have already mentioned, although a few monumental compositions were also born in Géza Kovács’s workshop – like the wooden Through Millenia (2000) from Nagyatád, of overriding importance in this collection, and the bronze Bird (2006) from Reghin –, this sculptor primarily creates in the traditional form of small sculpture; he creates sculptures of relatively small size, which can be contemplated from close: the works of art are presented for the public in the usual context of exhibition halls, on pedestals. While contemplating the small sculptures it can also be stated that the art of this sculptor is not broken by great changes, major turns: the series of his works conveys a relatively uniform, homogeneous concept, which, in spite of the traditional genre of small sculpture, does not bear the spirit of the classic, on the contrary, it is pervaded by the spirit of modernity. The selection of the material, the way of processing it, the method of creation and of course the concept of creation are no longer related to the classic tradition of sculpture. Instead of the elegant marble and the cold bronze, modern sculpture has discovered and applied several new materials, and among these a prominent part has been played by some of the most important materials of the twentieth century: iron and steel respectively. Instead of the glittering, smooth, elegant and sophisticatedly elaborated materials the rough, coarse iron sculptures, bearing the tracks of the ravages of time, suggest by their material that here serious tensions, problems, trials, hardships, tragedies rather than easy, bombastic things or unclouded beauties are brought into discussion. However, the iron is present only in its secondary materiality and subordinated character on these compositions: the former cogwheels, spanners, bicycle pedals, horseshoes, scissors, cramps, hoops, bearings, screws and chains can be well recognized: machine parts, tool-components, object-fragments, which are linked to the technology, to the world of objects, to the coldly practical functionalism of an age that is now history. They are related to the handycraft, to manufacture, to a still antropomorphic, transparent, clearly structured technical civilization. In other words, Géza Kovács’s works, belonging to the present, are built from the object heritage of the past, in this way they convey messages, they create exciting tensions between the different ages, between the past and the present. However, these fragments are not untouched, they do not occur in their original form, not in their former logical system of connections, and of course, not in accordance with their former functions, but rather in a new, unusual set of connections, forming strange constructions and structures. The artist treats the requisites freely, sometimes he respects the given form elements, sometimes he modifies them a little, and by establishing new relations, connections, form orders and especially by the new aesthetics he assigns new meanings to the old elements. These welded works of art generally do not have a body, they are rather constructed according to the order of schemes, and every component is highlighted through the contour: in this way interestingly formed space lines, space crossings, space interferences are created, the restless, exciting atmosphere, pervaded by motion even in its motionlessness, of the works of art is created. This is the abstract world of sculpture, oriented towards the past, generating weird associations: in the age of computers, of digitalization, of virtualities they primarily raise the old feelings, the illusions of feelings of objects fitting into the human hand, of palpable materials, of practical and transparent functions. However, these fragments, as mementos, echoes of past perfections, can stand in front of us only as miniature, intimate memorials of remembering and reminding of a past age. This is what also Lajos Magyari hinted at when analysing Géza Kovács’s works: “We could imagine almost all of these small sculptures in a monumental size as well, maybe in this way they would convey even more shocking meanings.” As his constructions are objects placed in space in an extraordinarily dynamic way, rather organized in space, emanating restlessness; they are emphasized by extensions, branches, crossings, interferences, and which are so to say crowned by some calmer wheels or rings. The sculpture collages by Géza Kovács are always ethereal, they never form a closed block, their mass is always generously dissolved, spread in space. The object or structure sculptures built from elements taken out of the former world of real objects never allude concretely to reality: no human figures, no new, concrete objects occur, not even at the level of empathy, as these works of art raise inspirations at the level of the thoughts and the senses instead of substitution or evocation: they open up associative conceptual headwaters for the public. In the works of art the feelings of outbursts, outbreaks, despairs, fears, revolts and outcries get shape, the focus is on the feelings and gestures of collisions, unfinished motions, coming to a standstill, on the world of thoughts organized from scraps. Géza Kovács’s object sculpture, promising shocking meanings, blends in a unique way tradition and innovation, the spirit of international artistic initiatives and the most profound, ancient and newer impulses rooting in craft, in folk art. His works are sensitive, profound confrontations with time-segments, involved in the material bearing the tracks of the ravages of time: they display the way the past gets synthetised in the present, the way the present is dissolved in the past.
Géza Kovács’s works have the aura, reminding of the past, of a grey world doomed to rusty destruction, to slow decay. However, the layer of rust itself is not real: when Géza Kovács finds the objects, the tools and the components which are rusty indeed, existing in the state of decay, he carefully cleans them, he sort of re-creates them as a scrupulous restorer, then, after the not at all simple phases of assembling and constructing, he creates, with a determined creative intent of aesthetic significance, an artificial layer of rust on the surface of his works of art, which no longer belongs to the old components, but conveys the message, serves the preservation of constructs transformed into works of art. In this way we can witness and experience the strange interwovenness of the real and the artificial: reality and art, the element of reality and the work of art get replaced by each other unnoticed and one hides itself in the other’s disguise. There is no need for us to explain and justify the rightfulness, the genuineness and the reason for the artist’s method: we only have to step out of the door of exhibition halls and the phenomena, the things of the world called reality reflect this very absurd phenomenon, the reversed order controlling everything, the replacement of values with worthless things, of realities with artificialities as well as the essence with the appearance, the fact that they are tragically confused.
Tibor Wehner art historian, 2010, Budapest, Hungary
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