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Motion – Pictures / Telephotography



From the series Motion – Pictures / Telephotography


40 x 30 cm
15.75 x 12 in







View in a Room

Edition 5(+2e.a.)/5 (+ 2 e.a.)

Motion – pictures. Telephotographs, 1980-82

The beginnings of Bálint Szombathy's wire photograph collection date back to 1980. During the eighties, he saved hundreds of press photos from the daily waste as the photo editor of the Novi Sad journal Magyar Szó (Hungarian Word). While such photos were, in effect, useless, they encompassed a quality of aesthetic expression that allowed for their inclusion in the arts. Reinterpreted through his sensibility and value system, Szombathy subsumed flawed press photos and exhibited them as his own works since 1982. He perceived of these images as Marcel Duchamp understood the objets trouvés, i.e. found objects.

Joining the movement of the Budapest-based electrography group Árnyékkötõk (Shadow weavers) and acting as the founding member of the Hungarian Electrographic Art Association, Szombathy featured his wire photographs - referred to as motion-pictures by him - at several national exhibitions over the last two decades. The basic linguistic attribute to his telephotography is defined by the disintegration and deconstruction of our tangible world's motifs, as well as the exit from the state of illustrative language towards visual signs.

Bálint Szombathy incorporated the medium of the “wirephoto” among the means of artistic expression in a way that is unparalleled even in an international context. Striving for completeness, the majority of pieces at this retrospective exhibition are featured for the first time, providing a comprehensive picture of this, yet rather unknown product of the multifaceted artist.

In the words of art historian Miško Šuvakovic:

"Szombathy is a real and unique artist after painting. Therefore, similarly to the artists of the Italian arte povera, he is a nomadic artist who is not determined by a single medium; rather, he employs various media according to his interests and conceptual needs. Szombathy is a political artist who has never talked politics or been the artist of politics. He, instead, is an artist who applied higher or lower level, local, international or global politics as a tool to express conflicts, research, and reactions in his art and life. [...]
After almost forty years of activity, Szombathy's creative practice is still full of challenges and provocative, both with regards to the arts and to the world of politics changing in front of and with us. Central aim to his art is confrontation with changes and the fluctuation of the world/machine."

(by Lajos Szakolczay)

1950 Vojvodina, Serbia

Bálint Szombathy, a conceptual artist born in Vojvodina in the former Yugoslavia (1950), is one of the key names of the former Yugoslav as well as Hungarian art. His practice included a wide range of artistic activities, from visual poetry, processual art, land art and performance, to conceptual art. Quite early on, he drew attention to his performative projects, such as The Trails (Subotica, 1970), or the photo performance Bauhaus (Novi Sad, 1971), while becoming particularly renowned for addressing the topic of socialist reality in projects such as Lenin in Budapest (1972), when after the end of the May Day celebrations, he provocatively carried Lenin’s portrait along the streets of the Hungarian capital. In 1969, he and Slavko Matković founded the Bosch + Bosch group, which represented a platform of neo-avant-garde artists from Vojvodina, Serbia, and Hungary. The group played a significant role in connecting with related movements and artists across Europe, particularly with its access to relevant information from the Western world.

Szombathy has been dealing with photography in a specific and authentic way since the late 1960s. In the first place, he photographically documented his performances and conceptual projects, such as the Flags project from 1971 or the project 36 Fixatives from 1973. While working as a graphic editor and designer at the daily newspaper Magyar Szó, he became interested in the anomalies that occurred in the telegraphic mode of transferring photographs. In this regard, he began to develop “telephotographs”, black and white photographic works including interventions into the basic photograph, repetitive patterns, and micro structures, which may resemble the techniques of collage or montage and were presented in the exhibition projects Telephotography of the 1980s and Suprematists. Most of the projects and works that have been created as a result of Szombathy’s interest in the photographic medium in the 1970s were presented in the Photoworks 1971−1981 exhibition at the Vintage Gallery in Budapest in 2010.

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Ljubljana, Trg prekomorskih brigad 1

Photon Gallery was founded in Ljubljana in 2003 to present and promote photo-artists from Central and South-Eastern Europe. It regularly shows work by both established artists and young emerging photographers. Photon encompasses various professional activities such as gallery work (production and organization of exhibitions), festivals (organization of Photo...

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