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New Addition: János Fajó

mumok collects

New Addition

János Fajó
Két háromszög (Two Triangles), 2000
Oil on canvas, 152.5 × 152.5 × 8 cm

The paintings, wall objects, and sculptures by János Fajó (1937–2018) show that sensuality and mathematical calculations do not have to be mutually exclusive but can instead truly inspire one another. Fajó was a friend of Lajos Kassák, the Hungarian constructivist, who was also Fajó’s teacher, and of Victor Vasarely, one of the most influential artists in the Op Art movement, and he created works together with them. He also had contacts with the inventor of “cold” concrete art, the Swiss artist Max Bill, not only concerning the practice of art but also its theoretical background. As a theorist and teacher, Fajó also influenced younger artists.

Within the scope of the Budapest Workshop (Pesti Műhely – Imre Bak, István Nádler, Ilona Keserü, Tamás Hencze, András Mengyán), Fajó also worked with silkscreen prints, a new technique for the democratization and marketing of art that derived from industry and was used at the time by American Pop artists as well as quickly gaining a place in contemporary Hungarian art. This technique facilitated increased exchange between art and the local and international scenes. This is no small matter, when we consider that in the 1970s the geometrical abstract art of Fajó and his colleagues stood in opposition to the communist state socialist realism and had no access to an art business and market infrastructure comparable to what was available in the West. 

Since the 1970s, Fajó created a painterly oeuvre that drew on the tradition of constructivist modernism and set new accents under the influence of Op Art and the decorative and colorful trends of the 1970s. He himself spoke of symbioses, for example when he used formal and color dynamics and rhythms in order to add exciting movement in great variations to geometrical and symmetrical forms. One might speak of solid statements about optically mobilized color-form relations. It is above all the visual irritations of Op Art and a greater awareness of Minimal Art that he playfully employs and perfects in his pictures and pictorial objects. Here, the transition from a play with color-form surfaces to reliefs and spatial objects seems a logical conclusion that opens up a large number of new opportunities for composition and modes of perception.

The work Két háromszög (Two Triangles) has been brought into the mumok collection thanks to a gift from the Fajó Foundation with the assistance of Amir Shariat as an intermediary. It very impressively illustrates the artist‘s highly charged reductivism that oscillates between surface and space. This surface that at first sight seems to be a square turns out after a closer look to be a relief made of two adjacent triangles that slightly overlap each other where they meet, producing a subtle special staggering. This relief-like geometry is further accentuated by the use of color, in which two different shades of yellow distinguish the two triangles and heighten the illusion of space, while the edges of the two diagonals form precisely delineated and brightly shining wedges of color. We thus perceive a multi-faceted interplay between the different elements of the composition, and this is furthermore dependent on how our own gaze shifts in space, so that as viewers we are given an active role.   

Rainer Fuchs