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SMILING MONA LISA (2007)
Photo Gallery_
JOYLESS MONA LISA - Exhibition
Gyula Rózsa
Népszabadság, Year LXV., 207/Issue 1. 2007. September 5. page 11.
2007

Do not let us beat about the bush: the central figure of this exhibition is Zsuzsa Moizer. The 28-year-old artist presents such an organic and mature painting in the gallery situated in Istenhegyi street that comes as a surprise even after her previous, early successes. This is real painting, even in the old-fashioned meaning of the word, because it depicts something, it depicts people, and, what is more, it paints characters and psychological situations. We have to admit, though, that these characters are not easy to interpret. What can we do with a girl’s head wearing a crown-like headgear, with a nude figure, probably a boy on the top, weighing on it? Or with a beauteous, nude, adolescent girl who is carrying a calf-bodied, albeit also adolescent, girl on her back? The third, who herself has a bird-body, with a real, undeveloped nude girl riding on its back with something like a sketched toy animal in her hand?

 

The title of this latter is Askos, i.e. a bird-bodied container, as we should know that Moizer likes and uses the antiquity. The one carrying the burden on her head is of course a Caryatid, the one carrying the calf is Moscophoros, the female counterpart of the famous archaic statue in Athens—the paintress also enhances the grotesque effect of her pictures by the means of orthography, a clumsy-archaistic transcription of the Greek words. But the other pole of this tension is stronger. The sadness or inconsolable mood that discomforts the spectator in every canvas in a certain form and a certain measure can be identified most easily and in an open and well-developed form in the portrait titled Tiara. This is worn by a beauteous girl between childhood and adolescence, and it is like the aigrette–coronet adorning the dancers of Soviet folk dance groups, with the grief of the dancer who was dismissed from the first row as a punishment.

 

The other woman characters—all the characters are girls, women, sometimes a minor, sometimes a mature woman—are more enigmatic, more indecipherable. But none of them are happy. There are some whose eyes carry the memories of dramas that belong to the past but cannot be undone. Others look at the spectator with a wise, resigned acceptance that is all the more poignant if it is a wise, resigned acceptance of teenagers, and the double and triple portraits delineate all the degrees of this disturbing, joyless mood. There is one single drama that is real, vivid, and that can offer a sort of explanation, but one should by no means think of whining mournfulness or frightening psychologising in connection with the other pictures as well. Laocoon is a more powerful composition—it has more action with its woman and the snakes, it is more erotic with its bodily openness, and it is more picturesque with its wild red chair—it is the only one that sticks out of the general reserve and the one that seems to offer a sort of explanation.

 

For all of Moizer’s other paintings are infinitely tactful. We can only endure the grief and the dumb reproach because she depicts them using practically one single hue, a flesh-colour that is rather despondent than lively. It is impossible to get bored of her pictures and it is easy to feel a sort of enthusiasm when going from painting to painting because this reserved pictura, narrowed by its strict discipline, is used in a very diverse manner. The scattered, blurred, but still red ornaments of Tiara, the smudgy green leaves of the Inner Garden cycle, the worn blue contours of the Askos. Because otherwise it is only a depressed brown, an old, unimaginative colour—once concise, once blurred—that animates her painting, whose excellent character-painting and confident psychologising is disguised and authenticated by this reserve.

 

The fact that the title of the exhibition—Smiling Mona Lisa—is inorganic is not only proved by the Moizer-collection. Claudia Tamási—who this time mounts her life and portraits with those of stars—does not seem to be a convivial paintress either. The photo-realistic pop-art-like (and sometimes monographic) composition of her pictures and especially the formless splashes of paint that flow between them very rarely ferment into a unity of thought that is promised by an encounter with Sophia Loren or Audrey Hepburn. The only thing that brings a little gaiety between the walls is the moving installation titled The Life of Cranes of the third exhibitor, Zsuzsanna Paál, who presents her tableaux painted in delicate rhythms.

 

(Smiling Mona Lisa, Volksbank Gallery)

 

Translated by Bálint Szele

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