Forms in interior and exterior space

Katalin Gopcsa, 2009

The studies of Attila Diénes are rooted in sculpture based on Greco-Roman art. He acquired the ingenious manual dexterity of the crafty masters living in Székelyföld as he was growing up. His conscious artistic work was crucially influenced by the sculptural perspective of the twentieth century that broke with conventions.

He uses an extremely wide variety of materials (wood, stone, marble, alabaster, bronze, zinc, clay, and textile) and fashions them in varied ways to create works of crystallised content. His simple, organic or abstract forms are signs, and just as well as his representational and antropomorphic works, they depict the ideals of vitality and harmony.

One of the earliest works of Attila Diénes is a primordial monster. The Totem is a neolithic idol. This Totem stands guard in Árkos, outdoors ? the sunlight is a complement of it just as well as the mountains of the rugged landscape.

His other Totem has a porous-rough surface; it also conjures up prehistoric nature peoples and the urge of archaic tribal cultures to erect cultic objects. Though it is featured in most of his exhibitions, photos tend to show this Totem (Totem 2) standing outside. It is thought-provoking that many sculptures of the artist actually found their place outdoors; that is where they are really effective. The ?Sámáncsali? (Shaman trap) standing in Zalaegerszeg, made from coarse- surfaced waste-material (iron) is immensely powerful as well. The artist?s attraction to the deeper layers of cultures is reflected by a sentence he said in an interview: ?One must make a clet and start everything from scratch!? Anthropomorphic stone-figures form the basis of his newest public monument-ensemble, made to be placed in Ajka, as well: the bearers of bronzes containing information about settlements are stone-figures that recall figural motives familiar from Diénes? earlier wood and alabaster sculptures and mock-up sketches (The feast of fire). This way, together, however, they embody a total communal value that is qualitatively different; understanding it requires an openness towards visual messages on the part of the onlookers ? it is a question whether this already exists, or more time needs to pass before this composition is accepted together with its complete unsaid content.

Diénes treats his materials with instinctive competence. The works belonging to another of his periods, regardless of whether they are made from marble, alabaster, bronze or wood, follow the necessities of the materials? forms (Constantin Brâncus¸ i) and thus their surfaces are smooth, polished to shine. We see the artist?s ingenuity of working with forms in how the natural, animal, plant, human forms are transformed by gradual abstraction and become often emblemlike works conjuring up the illusion of organic life, giving tangible answers to the existential questions. The overall effect of the dynamicrhythmic elements depends on what conceptual- intellectual constellation they come from: whether they use geometrical-abstract elements (I?m thinking of the metaphysical compositions) or organic non-figurative elements, to uncover connections and depict references, filling them with passionate liveliness. These forms that become signs are the basic vocabulary of Diénes? KATALIN GOPCSA Forms in interior and exterior space Háború (vasöntvény, 45x60x30 cm), 1990 autonomous sculptural language, he makes the organic designs of the veins and the network of his material ? alabaster, wood ? part of the sculptures, and by making us feel the organic growth of life, he creates a sense of organic forms. The provocative eroticism of his works also recalls that of fetishes.

The artist appropriated the revolution in sculpture which transformed the art of the twentieth century by the experiments in his own world of forms used. In his latest works, in these pierced bronze sculptures that almost become signs, he makes the hole, the break-through, the empty space also a part of the sculpture, creating almost mask-like forms. Figural compositions form a separate, significant chapter in the oeuvre of the sculptor ? now he creates such works again, composing them like metaphors. This is how the artist reflects on current issues, concisely, but going beyond, not getting into daily, identifiable actual details. Attila Diénes titled the figural works created in an earlier period ?Erdélyi életérezés? (Attitude to life in Transylvania), ? today he refashions these issues using other materials. Of his works in public areas, the dramatic-looking figures of his ?Monument in Magyarpolány? are representatives of this mode of depiction: these mute characters on a monumental stage carrying tragedies are siblings of the figures in ?Erdélyi életérzés?.

Exhibitions rarely feature the torsos of Attila Diénes ? since the striving for perfection hardly allows for accepting the unfinished nature of such works. Still, the expressive power of these torsos is surprising. The fragment of ?Meaningless philosophising...? dating from 2004 is an object of existence with unconscious depth, a being who has almost become an individual (having her/his own face and personality) but has not yet actually found herself/himself. The ?Waiting woman? is still united with matter. The propor- ManDan Thermal Hotel Zalakaros, 2000 tions of the unformed body and the mass of the head that is made up by a sequence of planes, as well as the half-fashioned figure of the sitting character reflect pregnancy and the mysteriousness of life.

If we regard the oeuvre of Diénes, we often get the feeling that we are facing several artists who started out from the same foundation; the overall picture contains the co-existence of several stylistically pure periods, which creates a peculiar eclecticism.

A whole separate chapter of his oeuvre is furniture- design. The early, unique pieces of the furniture of Diénes were made from wood, following Brâncus¸ i, the twentieth century ideal, who had created a puritan sculptural language ? these pieces of furniture conjure up a rustic environment. His later works are interiors that combine contemporary practicality (including shelfsystems running on rails, dishwashers, stoves, etc.), yet at the same time, their white-washed, rounded forms fastened to metal frames make them uniquely shaped spaces. The sitting furniture and arm-chair families made from leather of various colours, with rounded contours, which he created together with his wife Kinga Diénes, are realisations of the most modern design produced in a small number.

Diénes naturally and easily crosses over between plane formations and spatial formations: he reproduces his sculptural motives on the large-sized tapestries created using haut lisse technique, and his attraction to cubistic forms appears with intellectual loftiness on his latest Bolyai monument to be unveiled in 2009 in Marosvásárhely. The forms of geometrical solids bordered by hyperbolic and parabolic areas, placed onto a Euclidean foundation, have the everchanging shadows of these very forms cast over them: thus the spatial geometrical composition is, as it were, joined by its expansion, the dimension of time.

Katalin Gopcsa, 2009