Lóránt Méhes Zuzu

Put on glasses...

4 May - 2 June 2023

Since the early seventies, Lóránt Méhes (known artistically as Zuzu Lóránt Méhes) has been an important figure in neo-avant-garde art and alternative culture. From 1966 to 1971 he studied at the Budapest Secondary School of Fine and Applied Arts, and from 1974 to 1979 at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts. In 1976 he participated in the Rózsa press actions. The defining phase of his career was his collaboration with János Vető in the early 1980s, with whom he created significant pieces of the Hungarian Pop scene under the name of Zuzu-Vető. An important creative duo in Hungarian alternative culture, they have been creating separately for the last twenty years. The exhibition called Putting on the Glasses .... presents to the public, through the characteristic visual art media of the life's work of Lóránt Zuzu Méhes, the works of one of the most well-known figures of the alternative art and pop culture that flourished in the 70's and 80's. "I never thought of myself as an artist... I don't consider myself an artist... I always wanted to be a free person, that's the first priority... back in communist times they wrote in my book that I was an artist... I don't have any expectations, I don't have a character that is recognizable, maybe that's what they like about me, you can change anything at any time. i constantly maintain the possibility of being a free person... if I’m asked I paint...", Zuzu confesses.

Oil on paper

Lóránt Méhes is an important representative of Hungarian hyperrealism painting with a unique voice. The starting points and moments of inspiration for his works, which began in 1972, are the work of László Méhes, shown at the 1968-69 Iparterv exhibition, and the book by the American hyperrealist painter Charles Thomas Close, which he leafed through in the foreign language bookstore. The basic figurative realistic motifs of his works are the environmental spaces of Zuzu's life, composed of moments from his life, in which the most important people in his life are depicted. The compositions are based on old photographs, which change and transform as the paintings are composed, until they become the ideal new moment. The moments captured in the earlier photographs change on several levels during the process of creating the paintings. The time lines disappear, thanks to the motifs that represent unique references in the compositions.
The recent Zuzu painting on display in the exhibition, entitled “I'm going to be a modern painter (I thought when I was 16)”, was painted in 1973. Its basic idea is a generational retrospective, one of the elements of which is the experience of existence-permanence, the supersession of the theory of being-nothingness in the visual arts by means of a horizon that can be extended to infinity. The process of creation began with the rediscovery of an old family photograph and continues after a long time. "Time does not matter to me. It doesn't matter what I do, when I do it... I am independent, I don't care about time."

Ludas Matyi series

These drawings are the best known pieces of the life work of Lóránt Zuzu Méhes. This series of colour drawings in the artist's characteristic scale, spanning the artist's entire oeuvre, are a constant presence in the artist's life, a permanent and certain imprint of his life-creating process. In these drawings, Méhes creates them inspired by the daily experience of life. There is no preconceived plan, they do not carry a primary meaning. The resulting unique graphic works are not connected by anything, yet they are cohesive. The variability of the drawings gives the works a unique, special power in the creation of different timelines, the works complement each other like a large group, at once disorderly and chaotic, at once different styles, completely representing Zuzu.

Photographs in the Zuzu oeuvre after 2000

Since digital cameras have been around, Zuzu has carried one in his pocket, so he has been taking photographs for more than 20 years. In addition to short project-based artist series (smoke experiments, kaleidoscope, lights on the wall), the artist also takes photographs for long-term documentary purposes (photo diary, photos from my window). The photographic documentary, created over the last two decades, organises Zuzu and the micro-cosmos of his surroundings, his friends and his life in a photo diary. His entries have become scarce in recent years, but the activity has not been completely closed.

Smoke-experimentation after 2008
I was once bored in a group on Pozsonyi road, I started a kind of game, taking pictures of distorted compositions on the windscreens of cars and aligned them in series. It was my first experiment in art photography." The first experiments with digital photography around 2008 opened the way for Zuzu to slowly let the pieces in of the smoke series into his oeuvre. "I sat alone at home, experimenting with light absorbing backgrounds and then creating smoke with the right type of object".One of Zuzu's incense burners provides the strong and characterful smoke signals for the photographs in the Smoke Experiment series. The pieces on display are all unique 1/1 digital photo prints, the first planned conceptual compositions of the artist's photographic series included in the oeuvre.

The exhibition is part of the BUDAPEST PHOTO FESTIVAL program's.