ISTVÁN ORTH – POESIS OF ICONS
Jesus, the archangels Michael and Gabriel, Christian, Islamic and Hindu saints, notions – are sacraments, Egyptian, Greek, Latin mythological figures, travel experiences till India and Nepal, from ancient times to our days. They are oil paintings, prints made after oil paintings, aquafortes, lino-cuts, tint-drawings.
How can one discuss the information presented by the graphic artist Orth István expansively and systematically? Various artistic, theological, mythological and cultural semantic layers are built here in such a way that the light flutter of the image suggests a deeper mental content. The main characteristic of the paintings is their intellectual nature, Orth István’s career leads the viewer in a special mental space, and the spaces of the paintings are spaces of thoughts.
How does the thought become image here? They are mystical, aerial paintings about parables, paraphrases of thoughts that are honoured and pursued, shaped, polished and propagated by creative humans for thousands of years. The poetic, lyrical character of the graphics, the elan of the strokes, the majesty of the movements of characters – the paintings emanate an uplifting atmosphere. We watch stories that are told and retold by humanity for thousands of years. And in these stories it searches for, honours and pursues its god. In the telling and retelling, either in the texts or in the visual language, it looks for the main imperatives, the existance-technique is governed by these.
The frame of interpretation of Orth István’s series with the title Icons (Ikonok) is the Bible – the creative behavior of the graphician must be valued on the one hand as a mental performance, on the other, we must present the method, the way the artist transforms thoughts into images, as well as the way in which the images of human figures and scenes have an effect at their turn on the reading of the Bible. We are witnesses of the relation between the aesthetic and theological experience.
In order to map the effect-mechanisms of the series, we may interpret the paintings in the relation of the theological and aesthetic experience – the relation of these experiences being highly determined by the latter’s historical position. What are the characteristics of the art historical period here?
The possible interpretations are determined by the reception history, the consensus of the readers’ group, more precisely, the dialogue of the two. This is where the subjectivisation of a single author gets shape.
The presence of godliness is characteristic to the age, thus the prediction of André Malraux, according to which the 21st century will either be religious or will not exist at all, was proven. And we must add to the context of the turn of this century and millennium that Orth István is an author who understands the Bible as he studied theology at university. The next characteristic is the transcendence between genres. The method of the graphician is that in fact he places several paintings one on the other, while the viewer is led from the space of one painting into the space of another.
The heritage if the icons has the role to give shape, as the artist does not present the biblical figures and scenes, but he expresses them suggestively. At the same time they face the viewers – this is how the icon creates the realtion between the sanctity and the one praying in front of it.
As in the case of icons, the faces are not unique here, the graphician creates lookalikes. And that is how in the end the painting becomes the discourse of the various readings. Indirectness is characteristic also in the sense that the prints made after oil paintings as well as most of the paintings themselves are not based on the primary interpretation of the text, but based on a previous work, that is a previous interpretation, an art work which already took the shape of a painting. The artist reduces the image to a few minimally necessary lines, features, colour spots, drawing and painting at the same time. The sharp lines of the aquaforte are taken over by lighter, yet lively strokes, moreover the composition is completed with colour-spots. Colour is not an additional feature here, it is not a simple accessory or characteristic, but it becomes autonomous, thus having the function and power of creating meaning. The archives of the bolts help construct the paintings in a picturesque way.
In his poetic series Icons, Orth István harmonizes the ancient knowledge of different cultures.