Ádám Horváth

Artist Interview

February 17, 2021
Ádám Horváth (1988) is an artist based in Budapest, Hungary. He attended the Hungarian University of Fine Arts. His visual language is based on a lyrical private mythology that have been brought to life by his current creative attitude. In his paintings and sculptures, he rediscovers mystical nature like an archaeologist digging deep into the past. The pre-romantics that pervade the works is not present as a theme or as a style, but rather as the essence of the works. He uses nature and its various elements as a metaphor.

Hello Ádám, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

Hello, thank you for having me. I was born and raised in a city called Miskolc which is located in the Bükk mountains in Eastern Hungary. It has become more and more important in my life. Despite it is one of the largest populated Hungarian cities, it feels a lot like a village. The poverty is striking in this area, which causes very limited cultural and social possibilities to people living there.

After I finished high school in Miskolc, I was thinking about studying biology and botany but after all I applied to and attended the Painting department in Hungarian University of Fine Arts in Budapest, although I have finished my studies there before graduating. After school I started to work in the AQB (Art Quarter Budapest) and since then I still work there.

What are the main concepts and ideas behind your work?

My works are heavily based on personal experiences. I started to think about them like subjects that give opportunities to heal wounds acquired in the past like a gauze helping to heal a gash. This ability is a magical transformation with which I am able to override social and moral issues. In this world I can defy the will of community and the desire to belong. My intent is to integrate personal conflicts, doubts and their possible solutions into my works so they function as relics, religious objects for me, like a canopy of meat excised from the body. I intent to empower them with being capable of locking and preserving my depressed and exiled thoughts and emotions in themselves.

Can you tell us more about your recent solo exhibition, Fingerprints are blown by the wind towards a sacred land, at Horizont Gallery?

I intended to continue my previous solo show ‘I found a shelter at the river shore’ with this current one. The works on the show represent the treatment of loss and dilemmas in a world where the human presence goes hand in hand with nature, and are close to its elements and mysticism. Isolation and mysticism are decisively present in the artworks, which basically set their atmospheres. On the other hand, searching for home and the feeling of rootlessness can dominantly be found in them, that, either consciously or unconsciously, but fundamentally preoccupy the present generation in my opinion.

What is your process like? Do you approach paintings and sculptures differently?

The reason why I start having an interest in a topic is variable, but usually I collect leaves, mushrooms and stones in the nature. These objects I collect I often see as artefacts from the nature and treat them as an archeological finding. Color ratios and structures I observe on these objects often help to create an idea.

The only difference between making a sculpture and a painting is the materials used which mean different technologies required by the characteristics of these materials.

My process of creation can be long drawn-out and it can take weeks until I consider a work piece completely finished. I make a lot of drawings and sketches as plans and preparation for my paintings and sculptures as well. That’s why I have a feeling that I have completed multiple works when finishing a painting.

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The titles of your work and shows are often long and poetry-like. How do you come up with the titles? What significance do titles play in your work?

I am thinking about myself like a painter and a poet in one person regarding my own stories. I tried to write poems a long ago but I had to realize I’m not capable to express myself verbally the way and extent with painting or visual arts. My titles might be in a way a desire and a fulfillment for poetry.

They are either a help to interpret and to get close to the work or they can expand the room for further interpretation. I fully entrust the interpretation of my works to the viewer, I try not to give too clear explanation about them.

We love how intricate and detailed your works are. How much time do you spend on the details of each work? When do you know when a piece is finished?

If there is a fast working artist, I am the exact opposite of that for sure. I have a slight problem with scheduling, so I tend to spend a lot of time on details during the creation process. I use certain technical solutions and tools that require a long time to finish a work. The most significant and time-consuming part of the process is painting the background for the picture which I do without any airbrush or spray cans.

How is the art scene in Budapest? How does it affect your work?

This is a very complex and hard topic to discuss briefly in my opinion. Hungary is a small, traumatized country, therefore the art market is also very limited. This means that the demand created by collectors and for-profit galleries mostly focus on more acknowledged artists since they are not willing to take risks on cooperating with young artists. This can create a difficult position for emerging artists to unfold.

However, I think there are some positive tendencies in the Hungarian art scene in the last couple of years. Several independent / artist run spaces opened in Budapest and those institutions could be a huge support for them.

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What is your studio like? Is there anything in your studio you can't live without?

I work now in AQB in Budapest which was a beer factory back in the times so the building itself resembles a factory. My studio is small so I must keep the space in order. This is important to me to so I can feel comfortable and be able to create in this space. Since I have wooden beams on the ceiling, I can hang some wrapped sculptures on it that look a bit like body bags. Recently I have been making more and more sculptures that start to narrow down the space for storage, so in the future I might be in a need of a more spacious studio.

I have a pair of very soft ‘studio-slippers’ that I wear while I work. These slippers have become an important piece of clothing which I always wear in the studio.

Are there new ideas or themes you are interested in exploring next?

Nowadays I’m thinking of using some new materials like epoxy-resins and learning how to use them. There are also some fresh topics that I’ve become really interested in. For example, at the moment I’m thinking about a new project about buildings like medieval castles and tools from that age which serve as a protection, alleviating the feeling of vulnerability that I experience nowadays.

What are you watching, listening to, or following that you would recommend?

At the moment I’m reading a book called Objective from the 80's sci-fi author Péter Zsoldos. It’s about an android surviving and thriving on an unfamiliar and hostile planet. This current pandemic made me realize it doesn’t matter how fictional a story might seem, it always can become a reality. With this mindset I think I feel more prepared to everything. I am fortunate to be in a position where I can separate myself in my studio from all this so I spend most of my time there.

Usually I like to listen to instrumental music that fill out the space like the music of William Basinski and it won’t distract my attention. If I want some distraction, I watch Jeremy Wade showing me giant whitewater fishes from around the world.

Do you have any bad habits? How do they affect you?

I do have some, but I think my most annoying issue is not being able to schedule my time properly. It turns out all the time that I need more time finishing a work than I have anticipated in the beginning. When preparing for an exhibition, this habit sometimes causes sleepless nights when there are only days left until the opening.

Is there anything else we should know about you and your work?

The creature called Squeeze from the X-files still scares the shit out of me.

For more of Adam: @adm.hrvth