'Chunky Steps' solo exhibition at Nagyházi Contemporary
On view: 11.11-11.30.2021
Opening speech: Patrick Tayler
Text: Éda Meggyesházi
Photo credits: Réka Hegyháti
Ádám Dóra’s series, Chucky Steps was started during the global pandemic. Portraits of sneakers on canvas; figurative oil and acrylic paintings using the language of formalist and modernist art, drawing on pop-culture. More specifically, on the world of fashion. The artist evokes his models by the conscious blending of varied material qualities and tactile textures, all of which appear in natural landscapes that form a diverse, yet coherent universe. A generous indulgence in character can be discerned in each painting, despite the fact that the main stylistic line of the shoes is always recognisable: they have personalities of their own.
In his book The Language of Things, Deyan Sudjic explores at length the ambivalence that fashion holds for the theoretical question of individuality. Namely, that fashion simultaneously carries the possibility of belonging and not belonging. It constantly draws on the fields of art and design, and– it’s particularly characteristic of the attitudes of the fashion industry in the 20-21st century – juxtaposing design trends and a variety of visual art media. In this way, fashion, in the hope of its own renewal, in its pursuit of 'novelty', inevitably integrates subcultures into itself that may lose their identity in the process.
According to Sudjic, shoes are particular players in this phenomenon. Their hybrid character is more accepted, more allowed, even celebrated in the world of popular aesthetics. In 20th century fashion history, we have witnessed the triumph of the sneaker, which is to support the human foot’s anatomy and its performance. As a related trend, the sneaker transcends the humble consideration of the human foot's anatomy and takes on increasingly otherworldly, alien-like forms. The sneaker, which was intended to represent comfort and for a long time was present as a 'substitute' – an accessory that provided agility – has over time taken on the role of formal footwear.
The sneaker alone is capable of illustrating larger-scale social fault lines. While it gradually became an accepted casual wear in the second half of the 20th century, narrowing the gap between social classes, it later reasserted its status as a social symbol through limited edition pieces and the illusion of collections. Almost single-handedly, it has the capacity to represent social unity and division.
Ádám Dóra takes fashion, which uses the trends and media of art for its own sake, out of its context, and elevates it into art, playfully reversing the usual flow of media passage. In his series, he thus catalyses fashion's own statements alongside abstract and figurative painting traditions. In this way, the artist consciously employs the store of motifs and aesthetic meanings that these objects express and can express, transforming his works into a kind of social mirror. Through his sensitive and thoughtful works, he therefore not only addresses issues of painting and representation, but also brings into the discourse a conceptual social theme that draws attention to the socially formative nature of objects.
Translated by Ráhel Anna Molnár