Perspective of Emese Kadar-Awardee
Emese Kadar, “Good Luck”
100 cm x 140 cm x 40 cm, 2018-19

I studied painting at the university, but after three years, felt disassociated from the genre. During the next few years, spatiality became my work’s core element along with interactivity and playfulness. I left ordinary pictoral thinking behind, at least for a time. Change came in 2017, when I spent a semester at Warsaw. I became acquainted with weaving there due to its materiality, its link to art-objects and spatial arts, and its obvious connections to traditional painting. Pictorality returned to me, as I was able to use it as a part of my installations.

It’s important to me when creating artwork that technique and concept are strongly tied together. I use a broad variety of materials and techniques, sometimes mixed within one piece. I’ve used concrete, plaster, and wax, and have experimented with ceramics, digital drawing, and embroidery. When using multiple media, I try to be conscious about associations linked to them, realizing them as a part of the main concept. For example, one can note the traditional, handmade arts and crafts qualities of certain tapestries, but for me, they can be so only as a part of an artwork, as long as they help to highlight the work’s true meaning.

I often receive questions about my intentions in creating applied art. I prefer to put myself within the fine art section. I don’t have specialized knowledge of anything, sometimes just vague understanding of a method. At times, I begin work on an art piece and have to learn a new technique along the way. Accidents and unmade artworks can occur, but mild ignorance helps me to maintain self-consistency, to remain independent from overused practices and mannerisms.

Emese Kadar, “No Line” Detail.
50 cm x 150 cm. 2017-18

My first tapestry, No-line, 2017-2018, concerns parallelism between errors within the digital world and common reactions to missing information. These tapestries depict public spaces, stirred by events that differ slightly from the well-known, events oscillating between reigns of the remarkable and the habitual, the unknown and the ordinary. In this case a hole, a vacuum, disrupts the fabric of information. It appears as a literal hole as well as an ordinary pit or trench within the picture’s virtual space.

Errors and small mishaps pop out in the data flow from time to time. Glitches, bugs, or corruptions of .jpeg-format can be seen as not only lack of information, but also as generative of new meanings. My damaged old phone offered a good example: when I shot a picture, some recorded data was left out. The phone patched the missing parts with chunks of old pictures. Just as an algorithm displaces no data with old data, the human mind fills gaps with borrowed information its past or from the environment.

These tapestries are based upon digital drawings. A telltale sign is a special perspective widely used in video games, and simplified rendering of pixel art. Maybe the most vital part of single-player video games is that they tease from the start with a reward or epic closure. The solution at the story arc’s end resolves tension into the taste of success. The spaces constructed offer no solution; they fold into themselves. If you begin a route along a vertical axis, you will meet the same spot after a time.

This hidden self-repetition is more apparent concerning four small objects that accompany the tapestries at the exhibition. The boxes’ simple revolving mechanism inspired me to do the next two-part installation, Good Luck. The first part resembles a slot machine. Instead of three plastic rollers with random icons, I placed three circular tapestries using superstitious symbols that usually mean good fortune or bad luck. Here, these symbols are between two extremes: the black cat isn’t totally black, the hand with crossed fingers is severed from the body, the four-leaf clover is being eaten by a slug, etc.

My starting point of the installation’s second part involves a typical lottery machine and the small orbs it contains. Greyish wax balls go roundy-round inside a bigger revolving icosahedron. Five numbers are written into the insides of the spheres. Each number is placed onto a wax palm’s fingertip. These short sequences have already won at a lottery draw; they belong to actual winners. The chance that in the near future they could be drawn again is vastly smaller. Some hope of a wondrous lucky moment lingers around them, but also inherent certainty that they won’t likely win again.

Apart from contrast of form, my installation differs from the original machines in an important respect: the player using it doesn’t risk anything, but can win nothing by it.

When planning this piece, I researched the subject of lottery culture, especially its ancient origins that are the roots of our present-day gambling culture. The most significant change is that today, superstitions don’t connect to consistent worldviews; rather, they work as empty rituals. A superstitious act occurs without substantial hope of changing the future. In the same way, a gambling addict is captive of a strict, souless routine without a firm belief in the big win, but a small fracture of hope remains: “…but what if this time?”

Gambling culture employs colors, sounds, and other effects as means of creating an attainable wonderland. After the great disenchantment of the western world via modern science, some magic is smuggled back through the glimmering parade of casinos through cheap promises of slot machines and irrational superstitions.

I create my works to be enjoyed by a broad spectrum of viewers. I also hope that in addition to their aesthetic value, these works can trace at least a part of the my line of thought, and which thread could be followed by a viewer, tracked down until interesting problems arise from interplay between the observer and a work’s pure form.

Author Bio

Emese Kádár lives in Budapest, Hungary. She earned her Bachelor of Painting at the University of Fine Arts in Hungary in 2019. Her work has been featured in various group exhibitions in Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Poland, and in two solo exhibitions in Hungary.