ERIK MÁTRAI (1977)
"When one works with space, light, smoke, it carries with it a transcendental experiential quality. With painting it is not so simple. There is only the visuality, a flat image, which makes it more difficult to involve the viewer in the spectacle and more difficult to take away his emotions. ... the size of the space immediately implies that the viewer is able to place himself in it. When the size of the painting increases to the point where it fills the field of view and the viewer can almost step into it, they can better experience that kind of experience." Erik Mátrai
He graduated from the Hungarian University of Fine Arts in 2004 with a degree in painting - his thesis was a video installation he made on the beach in Valencia during an Erasmus scholarship - and later earned a DLA.
He is interested in new technologies, regularly creates installations, site-specific works and works with photography and video. The play of light, water, fog, colour and reflection play an important role in his art. He is interested in nature, his works are often linked to religious themes, he is inspired by Christian art (he also uses Christian symbols such as the square or the cross), and his works often refer to transcendental issues. His video installations deal with eternity, redemption and immortality. He has shown his works in churches on several occasions because of the importance he attaches to space and its connection with the audience. He has also created tableaux that deal with colour reflection (the starting point for these was when he began teaching theatre at the Eszterházy Károly University in Eger, where he carried out various colour experiments).
One of his most significant works is the installation Porticus, first realised at the acb Gallery, where he used huge columns of light to create a space in darkness and smoke, transforming the exhibition space into a temple space, a kind of meditation space. He also presented this work in Rome, where it was on show at the Falconieri Palace. As his works are mostly site-specific, their message or interpretation depends very much on the space in which they are displayed. In the exhibition in Rome the installation took on a more architectural character.
Erik Mátrai likes to work with other artists, even combining different artistic disciplines: contemporary dance artists, musicians. This kind of creation, thinking together with others, leads to the creation of other kinds of works. His studio is in the Art Quarter Budapest Centre, where he also has the opportunity to work with others. At the end of 2020, he showed here his works (mainly on canvas and paper) made in the last 3-4 years with the theme of the ellipse.
In the Veszprém exhibition visitors can see his small-scale works entitled From Orange to Black (2015) and From Blue to Orange (2015). The works, made of plywood and painted wooden boxes (one darkened on the outside, the other lightened on the inside), appear as a small altar. The different coloured layers on the white frame produce reflections of different colours; they are thus linked to colour studies and optical phenomena. Erik Mátrai has also created similar installations that fill the whole room, but which point even further ahead, where one moves inwards along the stations, as if on a calvary, through the different coloured gates, while the space becomes transparent.