"A Nagy Trompe l' oeil"

The great delusion "Street Dimensions"  Katalin Nagy series of tapestries

The splendid gobelins of Katalin Nagy break with the princely pomp of traditional themes and decorations and represent an utterly different,
mundane world, the visual medium of the street. 
As if competing with the deceptive paintings of the Baroque trompe loil, she presents the plain walls with various layers of posters on them.
These layers, however, contain the users involvement as well, inasmuch as more often than not they reveal the stripes of paper torn off by passers by, 
that is, only the remains of the one time posters can be seen. It is on purpose that the typography of the posters hardly reveals any legible fragment, 
the stress is laid on the diversity and fragmentary nature of the visual message. 
Looking at the tapestries we both know and feel that they capture a transitory movement the next phase of which will be an utterly 
different picture  that of a newly glued and repeatedly destructed surface.
The ephemeral character of the sight and the mysteriously emerging dimension of time renders the work of art enigmatical, restless, and lively.
The gobelins, at the first approach, reveal an intention of some kind. 
The trivial character of the chosen theme, that of decay is doubtlessly aimed at astonishing the viewer. 
The works themselevs are  consciously compiled lost and found objects, the original designs of which were offered by the street. 
Trends of pop art which elevate newspaper typography to elements and motifs of art and 
thoughts intended to criticize consumer society inevitably come to mind, too. 
Post-modern works recalling the styles of avantgarde and neo-avantgarde may be in connection with the 
phenomena and visual environment of consumerism in Hungary in the Nineties.
A second, more profound approach to interpretation, however, reveals deeper dimensions. 
Fragments of typographic elements can be read as fragments of contemporary culture, accessories of a modern written literature. 
Writing as the carrier of human culture, as the symbol of erudition often appears in works of art from the mid-twentieth century on, 
and is, as a rule, the symbol of the value of time, history and culture.
Blurred inscriptions, decaying engravings on stones or lines on a  paper all carry within themselves the dimension of time, 
the visual expression of inevitably transforming and decaying values.
The tapestries of Katalin Nagy also display time in the form of poster fragments in the last phase of oblivion. 
The use of written elements by the artist represents the high-speed culture based on information and communication, two key notions of the past decade. 
The series of tapestries reflects the reality surrounding us a visual message and an inevitable part of our culture
that also accepts garbage as its medium.
The latest works of Katalin Nagy are not sequels to the Street Dimension series but preserve a great deal of the issues raised there. 
These works are textures and gobelins made of a quickly decomposing material, paper, 
and the artist also applies various scrap items to the texture of her paper pictures. 
Having been used functionally, the thrown away rags, paper scraps, and wood shavings come to a new life and become decorative elements.
It is as if the artist waited for the moment when these objects step out of their life proper, it is from than on that 
they raise her interest and become future parts of her work of art to be born. 
The most trivial elements freed from their caul are reborn just as it can be seen in the tapestries.
Scraps of paper, fragments of the streetscape and posters are compiled by a real textile artist to form an exraordinary decorative composition. 
This decorative field (Wall-Field) is the one that keeps the traditions and spirit of gobelin art and represents it rewritten in a contemporary form.
Trompe l oil   an eighteenth century genre in which the pictures represent objects 
and paintings nailed to a boarding, painted with a deceptive verisimilitude.

Mónika Kövesdi

art historian