Ádám Dallos: Kiss of the Bull
July 16–August 22 2020
Curator: Gábor Rieder
Artkartell projectspace is delighted to present Ádám Dallos’s solo exhibition entitled Kiss of the Bull. In this new this series by Dallos, an artist in his mid-thirties and a representative of neo-expressive figural painting, mythological totem animals are fornicating in front of a symbolic curtain of Mediterranean waves.
Ádám Dallos invokes various mythological animals, so that, by stripping them of their skin, he can find his way to an experience of biological existence than can serve as a projection surface for sensuously presenting his own psychic world – a visual theatre, as it were. In his paintings from last summer, he called up images from anatomy atlases, as he peeled the integument off male bodies, thereby transforming them into frightening renditions of the living dead. Like a kind of grotesque fashion designer, he transformed the detached skin and muscle tissue into a waist cape, and the lungs and innards into upper clothing, with greenish, insect-like wings attached in the back. From the ball gowns of Dallos’s flayed figures, built from flaming muscles, giant cobras emerged. By the end of 2019, these paintings with a black base tone were followed by blues reminiscent of the sea: Dallos stood his skinned male figures in front of waving-oscillating surfaces. Next to these human bodies, he placed regal peacocks with phallic forms hanging from their abdomen. The birds, as they undergo various metamorphoses from one painting to the next, appear in the form of Greek gods, as they approach the human figures, who, reduced to horrific torsos, try to swallow the demonic birds with gagged mouths. The artist’s dynamic, expressive brushwork further amplifies the powerful emotional effect of these dramatic scenes.
The 2020 series is also grounded in the blue-red colour pairing of the peacock paintings, with a new animal – the bull – taking centre stage. As a heraldic symbol of majestic animals, the bull is spread wide open as it lifts his head to the sky. In place of his skin, we see the blood red writhing of flayed muscle bundles. Instead of dangling like the defeated slaughter cattle familiar from Dallos’s earlier series entitled Slaughterhouse Landscapes (2016–2017), however, here he towers over the viewer like an unconquerable mythological creature, like the mighty Minotaur of Crete. He stretches his large head toward the sky and sticks his thick, fleshy tongue out his mouth – as if it were some kind of magical fertility implement. Around these powerful beasts, we see animals from the artist’s previous paintings – from the proud stallion to the insect-like peacocks and fellow bulls. As Dallos puts it: “They are licking one another’s head, they are group-kissing.” These animals, whose contours are scratched onto the canvas with a painting knife, belong to the ancient Mediterranean pantheon – overflowing with masculine energies and filled with classical reminiscences – where, next to Picasso’s enraged bulls, Zeus, the abductor of Europa, is pawing the ground, in the company of an angrily bellowing Minotaur, who is awaiting Theseus. There is a simultaneous presence of dignified men and damned creatures of instinct, amorous males and symbolic totem animals, abstract allegories and flesh-and-blood beings. These are the heroes of Dallos’s mythical world, who lead parallel existences in the tragic-coloured present and the timeless world of Hellenism.