József Csató at Ravnikar Gallery / Ljubljana


Balancing On The Top Of The Fountain //József Csató

Curated by Peter Bencze 

24 – April 19, 2021

Ravnikar Gallery Space

Levstikova ulica 3,

1000 Ljubljana


Photography:  Mario
Zupanov / all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Ravnikar Gallery
Space, Ljubljana and Everybody Needs Art, ENA Viewing Space

Instagram: @josefcsato , @ravnikargalleryspace , @everybodyneedsart , @tulipankocso

Beyond being a testament to human craft and decorative beauty,
the fountain throughout art history has been a symbol for rejuvenation, joy and
life. As much as water is associated with reflection, ritual and the
subconscious, the fountain almost serves as a gateway or rite of passage to
accessing that internal wisdom or the Self that’s atemporal and in constant

Given József Csató’s ongoing interest in rituality and symbolism
in his paintings, the fountain emerges as an evocative icon. It’s a structure
that brings together planning and chance,  mad-made design and the force
of nature, permanence and transience. These two energies also find balance in
Csató’s work. In his idiosyncratic assemblages that channel Modernist and
Surrealist tropes into hybrid timelines, fresh pastel palettes and fluid
iconographies, we see an intriguing dance unfolding between the archaic and the
present, the mythical and the mundane. Alongside the central motif of the
fountain, there are other ‘vessels’ like the abstracted instrument and human
figure in the painting Sleep and Instrument (2021) and the various vases and
plant holders in the humorous drawing Better Days (2021). Some of his recurring
motifs from what he calls his “clubs of form”, like plants, cartoonish eyes,
vases, instruments and anthropomorphic shapes. These blend in with abstractual
forms and “happy accidents” on his canvases in a manner that feels playful yet

These symbols are derived from a varied visual vocabulary of
everything that “left a unique imprint” onto the artist’s mind, from ancient
iconographies, still-life painting, mythology, cinema and furniture design to
children’s drawings. He plays with the sense of familiarity and subconscious
associations evoked by his forms, whether they remind the viewer of something
from everyday domestic life, fictional narratives or canvases of Matisse or de
Kooning. In Csató’s world, symbols, culture and life itself are subject to
perpetual transience and semiotic metamorphosis.

Feelings of fantastical escapism can perhaps be considered
symptoms of the introspective mind – the pandemic has certainly pushed the
subconscious more into the forefront of our everyday lives. Csató’s works carry
an air of escapism and yearning for the past, as suggested in the title of his
work Source of my Nostalgia (2021), but this yearning isn’t too heavy or overly
dissociated from reality. Balancing on top of the fountain thus brings this
sense of escapism into unison with inevitable cycles of change. Instead of
being stuck in the past, Csató’s nostalgia has a more hopeful tone that finds
rituality in the everyday and conjures forth a brighter future yet to come.

Sonja Teszler, 2021