|Ana Cristea Gallery is delighted to present its second solo exhibition of new paintings by Budapest-based Zsolt Bodoni. A continuation of the artist's investigation of the instruments of power and political ideology, this exhibition represents a marked shift toward the use of a more vibrant palette and the blending of the mythological with the historical. Growing up in Transylvania, Bodoni was immersed in Hungarian myths and legends. The works in this show explore the legend of the enchanted stag, the story of Fehérlófia (son of the white mare), and the gruesome tale of Elizabeth Bathory (1560-1614), the Hungarian countess who supposedly abducted young virgins and bathed in their blood to maintain her youthful looks.
The legend of the enchanted stag casts the Biblical King Nimrod as the forefather of the Hungarians. His twin sons come upon a white stag while hunting; they then kidnap the two daughters of King Dul and their descendants become the Huns and the Magyars. In another legend, the white mare gives birth to three 'human' sons, one of whom, Fehérlófia, is exhorted by his mother to undertake a journey of Herculean proportions. After persuading his two brothers to join him, Fehérlófia departs for the underworld to rescue three princesses. Bathory is perhaps the most notorious female serial killer in history, although in modern times her guilt has increasingly been called into question. She may have been the victim of political and religious intrigues-in her day, the Hapsburgs were at the height of their power, and as a Transylvanian Protestant, Bathory would have been perceived as the enemy.
Bodoni is particularly interested in how these stories have been used (and perhaps abused) by more recent political figures. Miklós Horthy, the regent of Hungary during the years between World War I and World War II, embraced imagery associated with the white stag and Fehérlófia: photographs show him sitting astride a white horse amidst the public or chasing and hunting deer. Bodoni conveys the danger inherent in such political appropriations: Some of his paintings include faceless workers struggling to move towering monuments, and in one, a small girl seems to be running towards a dark and rather sinister forest. Bodoni mixes mythological imagery with depictions of the machinery of power and war-the Merlin engine which powered many World War II bomber planes and Horthy's car, later known as 'the car that nobody called.'
Zsolt Bodoni (b. 1975) studied at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest. In 2009, his first US solo show was reviewed in Art in America and he was included in Flash Art's list of "Top 100 Emerging Artists." His October 2009 show with Ana Cristea, the gallery's inaugural exhibition, was his first solo show in New York. Bodoni's work has recently been included in Uncertain Terrain (2010) at the Knoxville Museum of Art and will be featured in After the Fall: 18 Emerging Artist from Eastern and Central Europe at the HVCCA (NY), opening on September 19, 2010. A feature in Modern Painters is forthcoming.
For additional information, please contact Ana Cristea Gallery at (212) 904-1100 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.