Contemporary artist MSL's exhibition opens at Budapest's Rózsadomb Restaurant.
Ancient myth, monsters, gods and heroes are favorites in the classrooms, but let’s face it: we do not often read Homer once we have graduated. At least not as often as contemporary artist MSL says we should. “I value mythology because it is evergreen, containing a wealth of wisdom,” he reveals.
“I often turn to sacred themes, as the stylized expressions of ancient cultures and the revision of the antique sacred rules suit me,” notes MSL, whose current exhibition can be seen at Budapest’s brand new Rozsadomb Restaurant until March 14. His abstract works are all inspired by mythology. “I’m interested in timeless aspects,” MSL continues. “In order to understand my work, we have to consider it as a coded message,” he adds. In these paintings, mankind is on center stage, not as the mere plaything of the gods, but as a creature capable of unearthly divinity and the bleakest mortality. MSL reads a lot and this way, he has hundreds of images fighting for his attention and the chance to be painted.
He paints his way through the Bible, Homer’s works and different historic fables whilst achieving powerful and engaging work of art. “When painting, my approach is never spontaneous,” he says, adding that he always has the preconceived ideas, and he wants the image to happen. His two different technics include the use of ancient earth colored oil on canvas and also a sort of 3D method, carving into grand cement boards. The end result is defined and abstract, with the focus solely being on the characters themselves. “I learned that if the subject matter is strong, easily recognizable and symbolic in nature, it can be reproduced in a simplistic way with just a couple of colors,” he explains. He wants to show the most complex acts, emotions and compositions with the simplest elements. “Flow of concentrated line and sharp form, as well as negative shapes, are important and finally, the balance and harmony of color pulls the whole composition together,” he explains. MSL’s work expresses a passion to create movement, shape and texture.
Educate and impress
“You get the most from my paintings if they connect with you. It may take your eyes some time to get used to the scene and realize what it is about, but then, they start to tell you stories with deep meanings. However, I guess it’s always me who learns the most of them after all that research I’ve done to form my concept.” MSL intends to educate and to reveal different aspects of these stories that we were thought at school, and that we might not find out by ourselves. The symbols he uses force us to think in a metaphorical manner. So, the artist challenges us to imagine how ancient texts relate to our present When exhibited though, these pieces of art are of course complemented with a summary explaining the concept and the story. “What myths meant to the ancient people, and what they have for us today is different,” MSL continues. “We always find some relations and advice in them. Take the Bible, for example. Some parts of it were written more than 1000 years ago but it is still ‘hot.’ ” MSL also depicts the Biblical scene of the moment when David conquers over Goliath.
David and Goliath
“In my view, based on additional research, this was a very clear and evident victory, and when David succeeded, he did not take the chance to humiliate his enemy. At that moment, they were not enemies any more, and David’s only duty was to help Goliath to continue his route upwards by opening his ‘third eye’,” the artist explains. As Goethe put it once: “It is no great matter to make a goddess into a witch or a virgin into a harlot; but to achieve the contrary, to give the humiliated dignity, to make the fallen worth coveting, for that either art or character is needed.”
Another work of MSL’s entitled ‘Teseus and Minotaurus’ depicts the final scene of the story when the human overcomes the animal. The dynamic fight, the stabbing and the collapse of the bull-headed body are captured with clean earth colors. The precision of the oil paint takes further the arch of the fighters’movements. “The victory is springing, the failure is submissive. I adjust my theme to 'kalon', the Greek idea of beauty,” says the artist. Myths are poignant reminders that deep down, men themselves remain the same: creatures with a possibility to do good or cause death and destruction. MSL tells us about these characters and stories. His goal is to reach the world of instincts, to evoke heroic figures through the common symbols of mankind. His series of paintings invite us to think about our own place in the world and re-think our behavior and attitude.