Károly Keserü was another artist that I spotted in the same Summer Exhibition where I discovered Andy Harper many years ago. The smallish painting emanated an almost spiritual aura from the wall like no other, the technique was strikingly unusual. I wrote to ask for images of other works, which Károly refused in several handwritten and painted cards insisting that they have to be seen in the flesh. And Karoly was right, the mostly large canvases piled into a small storage room immediately did their magic. I still find it hard to grasp that it is possible to create such a dense and versatile artistic microcosm that somehow mirrors our macrocosm essentially by varying and alternating lines and dots.
Károly Keserü is best known for his rather minimalist works that take a new approach to geometric painting and drawing. The methodical and critical potential in his work accurately and sustainably address and review the legacy of Modernism and Post-Modernism in the digital age – one of the gallery’s core areas. In his search for a balance between the physical and metaphysical, between system and chance, Keserü draws inspiration from Eastern and Western philosophy, folk art like embroidery and Aboriginal and in particular music. Keserü then translates these influences into a creative practice that is both experimental and transformative.
Keserü’s trademark graphite and ink drawings are based on meticulous and labour-intensive handicraft, the abstract and geometrical structures are incorporated either in grids or formed by dots, where no dot is identical to the next. The lines are often drawn freehand, allowing for cracks to emerge and voids to prevail. At times, patterns disperse on the surface like notes in a musical work of improvisation, nebulous clouds of differing densities or a flock of indefinable clusters. The titles of his XXth Century Masters series do not only refer to selected artists such as Josef Albers and Victor Vasarely, but also adopt their chromaticity and image compositions: Agnes Martin’s characteristic horizontal stripes, Kazimir Malevich’s black square or Piet Mondrian’s compositions in red, blue and yellow. Finally, the artist also experiments with works that involve only paper itself by folding, crumpling, embossing, punching and puncturing to achieve a minimal yet more tactile feel and design.
Keserü’s paintings are based on the same principle, but in this case the grid is established in a matrix of thread, laid in layers of resin on a horizontal canvas. This way he retains the glossy surface of his paintings and then places dots of different colours on and in between the different layers. The placement of the dots is usually by free association without a plan or structure in mind unless a piece is deliberately derived from a pattern. The resulting compositions can be read as maps, landscapes, technological plans or low-pixel images yet remain essentially abstract and mysterious.
Exhibitions at the gallery:
Károly Keserü, 39, 2019 (solo show)
Károly Keserü, bitter, 2016 (solo show)
Drawing with Metal, 2015 (groups show with Lucie Beppler, David Connearn, Benjamin Cottam, Marietta Hoferer, Sam Messenger, Susan Schwalb, Dillwyn Smith, Damian Taylor and Erika Winstone)
Károly Keserü, CON-TEXT-WORX, 2013 (solo show)
Text(ure), 2012 (group show with claudioadami, Carl Andre, Alice Attie, Alighiero Boetti, Jacob El Hanani, Michael Landy, Katherine Murphy and Debra Scacco)
Magnificent coincidence, 2011 (two-person show with Tamás Jovánovics)
Summer Group Show, 2011 (group show with Isabel Albrecht, Astrid Bowlby, Sarah Bridgland, Jonathan Callan, Chuya Ikeda, Hans Kotter, Sharon Louden and Thomas Müller)
Károly Keserü, Tiger, 2010 (solo show)
Stand in line, 2009 (group show with Isabel Albrecht, Lucie Beppler and Astrid Bowlby)
Károly Keserü, mikrokozmosz, 2009 (solo show)
Károly Keserü, (Untitled), 2007 (solo show)