István Horkay

'Dreams' ~ words & voice Roshni Jayakrishnan, words & music Arjun Sen


In today's world, computers are used to simplify our lives. However, as an artist, I find computers and the digital world to be tools that must be taken seriously, because they inherently reflect the artist and his work. If my work is considered in its mathematical and digital realm, then we can see the duality of the human created art and the binary basis of digitizing. It is of the greatest importance that the humanity of the artist reveals itself truly and is not overshadowed by the technology. It is within these considerations that I come to a dilemma where I must find artistic parameters within the unlimited power of technology. When my work is saved as a psd file in Adobe Photoshop, I am at liberty to change, alter, or rework my pieces at will. My pieces, as stored files, remain alive and not complete with the resoluteness of, for example, a painting. Therein lies the challenge of finding closure and the end point to all the pieces.

While the technology poses challenges, I find my expression in the limitless possibilities of producing my art in any shape or size allowable. Having this digital world as my artist's tools allows me to cross-reference literature and poetry with imagery. It is within the layering and the cross-referencing that the artist's character and soul emerge. To me, each layer is another virtual poem laid upon another one. My works contain hundreds of layers, each separate as it's own poem, yet each connect to all as a whole. My goal is create a new genre of digital art, what I call "virtual poems".


a commentary by Bela Bacso

"And yet, word is not the life. People talk just to attack something or to defend themselves.
But the one who refuses talking...
How secretful a picture is... A gleam...
that cannot be explained." ~ Bram van Velde

Quite common it is when a painter traces the pictures of one-time artists to learn from them, to crib their secrets, to employ their knowledge for this own picture making fantasy. It could be quite common; but Horkay traces not Leonardo or Rubens, but a text, namely the first handwritten page of Freud's Entwurf einer Psychologie (1985), the mode how Freud's hand was writing, how he transformed the thought into a tangle of signs and letters. On the write surface (all-permitting and resistant at the same time) the Freudian text appears as a kind of a culture historical frottage ­ if I may use this term in a somewhat figurative sense after Max Ernst. The text does not mean simply itself; it is hardly eligible. The meaning of the picture is born from an 'injury' to the tangle of words. The never re-whitenable surface is penetrated by colors; constancy is re-achieved, since the retraced (frottage), and all written art-pieces lose permanency with advancing time.

Horkay's art is epitomic in the double meaning of the word: a fragment, an incised part of something already in existence, and ­ just because of this incision ­ is an injury to the finished surface, to the tangle of writing or a finished picture. This relies on the experience that man, handing himself down through signs, simulates a kind of sense-wholeness. In these series this textual sense-wholeness appears to be ever different as different colors enter the surface at different sites. It is the same and not the same at the same time. "Once the signs are scars, then the wounds will tell tales of some non-alleviated history" (D. Kamper ­ Zur Soziologie der Imagination Hanser V. 1986. p. 148). The sign will temporarily close over the story. Who else would know this better than Freud, who, after the neurological-physiological and neuro-psychical phases, so deeply doubted that it was possible "to bring to light the hidden content in its wholeness" (Konstruktionen in der Analyse 1937. in: Stud. Ausgabe Ergb. Fischer V. 1982. p. 398).

This culture of historical 'frottage' is an artistic reminder of the liberating and deeply doubt-evoking act of the Freudian turn, namely that everything what gains sense in the sign is not the movement of sense itself, but that of alternating meanings, a re-determination of the sign from the past history. The presence of unclosed and non-fulfilled alternatives in relation of the emerging sign is a pioneering idea of the Freudian psychoanalysis. "Interpretation comes fully untied in sense relations, and will understand the force relations (Verdragung, Wiederkehr des Verdrangten) only through these sense relations (Zensur, Entstellung, Verdichtung, Verschiebung)." ) P. Riceur ­ Die Psychoanalyse und die Kultur der Gegenwart in u. o. Hermeneutik und Psychoanalyse. Der Konflikt der Interpretationen II. Kosel V. 1974. p. 65).

Painting did not, and naturally could not withdraw itself from this turn, be it termed 'Beyond Painting' by Max Ernst, or 'die Aesthetik des nichtrelationalen Bildes' by the art historian G. Boehm. Beyond what, and non-related to what: this is the principal and unavoidable question of artistic painting in our culture. Horkay's pictures offer a rather interesting answer to this. Embedded in the art-piece, Federico da Montefeltro and Battista Sforza, two figures of Piero della Francesca, are exposed to us as a well considered 'collage'. In this delicious double portrait of the Quattrocento the harmonically arranged, perspectivic landscapes form the background of man, in the foreplan of which man is posted in a way that his rule is unquestionable. The subdued nature expresses the man 'free in himself' as well as the formidable maladjustment this glorified man has to face when his attention is focused only on himself, as it comes from the superior position of possessing everything. This is expressed by A. Chastel's remark to Whipping of Christ, a picture by Piero della Francesca: "He augments both the arithmetical sense and the intensity of colors to the utmost point, thereby transforming Universe into a bright, unslotted cage, where mankind can never lose its way." (Chastel ­ Italian Art, Corvina 1973, p. 113).

The great late modernists (Cezanne, Klee, Ernst, etc.) wanted to break out from this well arranged and well-interpreted world, the prison of supposed possessing of truth. The free-in-himself man, the man making himself as the center, has re-presented the world for himself in the monoperspective of this all-self-reference. As worded by Florenszkij: "Artistic truth has once and forever disappeared from Western religious painting ­ the process starting from the Renaissance ­, and though the painters declared their closeness and fidelity to depicted reality, in fact that had nothing common with the true reality whose depiction they took the liberty of, or formed a right to." (Florenszkij ­ The Iconostas, Corvina, 1988, p. 30).

In Horkay, the application of the painting historical element in the picture is a remembrance of an era we are over; over we are the naive relatedness created by perspective, and over we are the picture creating technique that relies on the latter. The application is neither parodistic, nor is an ironic citation, but is an emergence-transparence of a pictorial element of a past era as an item of a set. This set ­ writings, documents, stamps, painted pictures, etc. ­ is not else than some accumulated mass of culture and knowledge that surrounds us as a fermenting and evaporating hill of rubbish, of which everyone tries to save something, as allowed by his own fancy and the laceration and destruction degree of the hill itself. The question is how in this 'post' era motion develops at all from the radiating, energy-saturated set in our cultural memory at the returning of the displaced, the postponed, the passed and the repressed. An experiment to create a 'scientific psychology', the 'Entwurf' is closing of an era, when, naturally, the great ideas of the analytical age are already in preparation. Derrida's criticism seems to be rightful: "If we start from a hypothesis postulated in the Entwurf twenty years ago, namely that a permanent trace supposes that a road section (Bahnung) is deliberated and some resistance is overcome, than we have to conclude that there is no trace at all, since there is no opposing resistance." (Derrida ­ Die Postkarte II. Brinkmann­Bose V. 1987. p. 107).

No kind of memory will be born from the increase of quantity, since on well-travelable, non-inhibited road sections the latent time section is short, and the content is manifested rapidly. We can say, the conscience-fitness of perception is uninhibited, that is, referring to the Wunderblock, without permanent trace, it acts as a traceless, non-superscripted sheet of paper. As we know it from Freud's writings, memory is formed on sites of permanent traces, and due to discontinuous innervation, elements formed at different times can be stored in the same neuronal layer. Memory cannot be compared to a laboratory settling system in which particles arriving later will, by necessity, be positioned in ever upper layers. Bahnung is not a continuous-linear movement from the unconscious through the preconscious to the conscious. "Trace as memory is not a pure Bahnung that could be acquired again and again in a simple present. Trace is an ungraspable and invisible difference among the Bahnungs." (Derrida ­ Freud und der Schauplatz der Schrift in u. o.: Die Schrift und die Differenz Suhrkamp 1976, p. 308). Freud showed that delay, postponing, supplementarity are inseparable from life, while Derrida in this radical Freud interpretations criticised the time to time emerging naivity of transcription und translation, and the belief that the mind would be a motionless 'text'.

In his pictures Horkay overpaints, incises the written signs of the 'Entwurf'; in other words, he tears up the signs that close past history as 'scars'. This is summoning of what cannot be forced into signs. Painting becomes a 'chromatic language' (P. Kaufman), which, now far away from the pure presence of the self-exposing re-presented, presents the painting to us as something 'deferred', as it was worded by M. Duchamp. Due to its time-giving nature, delay is the eternal supplement to the same thing, and thus it will never liquidate the picture, but makes it infinite, resistant to any intrusion.

The 'post-human' art of our era has moved the farthest away from the ideal which reached the calmness of total emptiness by putting instincts to silence. (cf. Lyotard ­ Essays zu einer affirmativen Aesthetik Merve V. 1982, p. 106). Opening art toward the inherently uncertain existence of man, toward the layers of past history that cannot be covered by signs, promises the possibility that man, on some non-distincted place, will re-experience the world as something of his own, where he will be most essentially concerned by what surrounds him. Then the art-piece will not serve to put to silence "... what conceals itself, what calls some self-concealing repulsion in man from what can be neither planned or controlled, nor calculated or performed." (Heidegger ­ Die Herkunft der Kunst und die Bestimmung des Denkens in u. o.: Denkerfahrungen Klostermann V. 1983. p. 148).

Bacsó Béla

Bela Bacso is professor and chair of Aesthetics at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest (Hungary). He has translated Heidegger, Gadamer, etc. into Hungarian. His Hungarian language publications include The Art of Understanding and Understanding Art(1989); Borderlines: Hermeneutical Essays(1994); The Shadow of the Word: Understanding Paul Celan's Poetry (1996), "Because it is not us that know..."(1999), Writing and Forgetting (2001), as well as a collection of essays in German, Die Unvermeidbarkeit des Irrtums. Essays zur Hermeneutik Junghans Cuxhaven-Dartford 1997.

Recent publications: The Will to Truth in. Nietzsche, Epistemology and Philosophy of Science. Nietzsche and the Sciences II. ed. Babette E.Babich Kluwer Ac. P. 1999., and "Wille zur Wahrheit" als Kunst der Interpretation in.
"Jedes Wort ist ein Vorurteil": Philologie und Philosophie in Nietzsches Denken ed. Manfred Riedel Böhlau Köln/Weimar/Wien1999.



István Horkay
Budapest Katona
József utca 25