Szíj Kamilla



Kamilla Szíj is a graphic artist who, sensitively using only dry point, a printing machine, and freehand scraping, creates primarily monochrome, individual works from a minimal series of motives.

“The library is infinite and cyclical. If an eternal traveler were to cross it in any directions, after centuries he would see that the same volumes were repeated in the same disorder (which, thus repeated, would be an order: The Order).” Thus, according to Borges’s narrator, the Library (which is one and the same with the Universe) consists of all the possible combinations of a given number of orthographic signs (space, comma, letters of the abc, dot), and in the vast universe there are no two books that are identical. So too the artist’s world, built from the endless variations of a few form-morsels and fragments of shapes--sometimes reminiscent of the contours of a human figure, a cylinder, stairs, a razorblade or burning haystack--is infinitely diverse. The spectator wanders among the installations of the Budapest Gallery as if straying in an infinite and immense labyrinth: the unique scaled, uniquely situated individual works, fashioned by means of techniques used for multiplication, offer ever fresh points of connection, dimly glimpsed passages. Pathways to somewhere we could never get in our everyday lives.

Viewed from a distance, the ten meter long, one meter wide work on the floor of the exhibition space (more precisely, on a low platform), a light gray/ faded blue ground with scratched-in motives turning upon themselves and „covered” with a few white diagonals, reminds the viewer of a fragment (a cross-section ) of a road. From up close, the road’s cyclically repeated, but ever-changing stations reveal themselves, and in passing through them, the reader can delve into an enigmatic, mysterious story. For this opened scroll refers to the most ancient form of the book, the limitless, infinite totality, a linearity undivided into parts. The spectator becomes a reader, and in order to make his job easier, another narrower but still longer roll is placed on a slightly slanted pedestal approximately at waist height. A yet less energetic bookworm can stay seated while paging through the “same text”: on single pages of two free-standing sketchbooks, the reader can delight in an ever-expanding register of vocabulary-fragments. At the same time, the sacral, untouchable work of art becomes a work of art that can be held in the hand – available for everyone’s pleasure. Szíj does not attain to perfection, which in any case a scratching and cutting technique does not allow. Sometimes, contingency and temporariness becomes apparent in the slightly damaged edges of the paper; in other instances, in the use of pins (!) to fix the work onto the walls.

Behind this pseudo-disorder, however, lie conscious order and bold artistic principles. The artist breaks with the rules of graphic art as a cabinet genre, annexes space, moves the plane surface out from its space (corner picture), neglects the usual rectangular print format (round variations of prints), and considers both surfaces of the paper as ground (double sided pictures fixed at right angle onto the wall in eye level). She subverts the bounds of the traditional strategy of how we look at a graphic artwork as a whole (the series made of unique individual pieces compose a unit, a picture, only when seen from a distance of approximately 1-1.5 meters). In Kamilla Szíj’s works, the rigidity of monotonous, repetitive, thick and thin line mattings and the textures of the cobweb-like, delicate scrapes are sensuously softened by the reserved colors (camomile yellow, red, light blue). But nobody should be lured into facile shallowness by the colorfulness of the works! To grasp the intimate world of these works, meditative absorption is needed, the leisurely calm of the traveler who can disregard the passing of time.

Tanslated by Hedvig Turai