Attila Bagi: Memories Don’t Exist


Artwork’s Title: Memories don’t exist

Material Used: Oil, ballpoint pen on canvas

Studio Based: Budapest, Hungary

Attila Bagi, Memories don’t exist, 205 x 186 cm, oil, ballpoint pen on canvas, 2022

Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

I’m usually thinking about the fragility of memories: how can they make a complete personality from just fragments or splinters… It’s the abstraction itself! That distortion (of the memories) is my main inspiration. I feel that our perception of the present is too defined by our experiential conventions, so I’m trying to ignore it to some extent in favour of my current perception.

In general, I’m thinking in series. So if I have an idea about a project that I would like to make, first I start to draw. Those drawings will be the plans for the bigger works, paintings or sculptures. And after that process I start to paint.

How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?

Perception, eclecticism and cigarettes.

Could you share with us some insights on your ‘Memories don’t exist’, (2022) painting? Is there any particular story behind this new work?

This is my freshest work, and it is also the first pic, and the eponym of a new series. Now I’m planning paintings from motifs or patterns of my various memories, selected randomly. I write a lot of keywords from different stories and time, and I just pull some out from the box. After that I will plan a painting from those possibly mismatched, incompatible words. I find it an exciting challenge, I can’t wait to paint more pieces of that.

So that painting ‘Memories don’t exist’ is the flag-bearer of this concept: for example, the gigantic snack-sun is from a snack what was general in a basic Hungarian childhood. It’s cheap, made from corn, and because of the starch easy to glue (with saliva, of course). I’m sure every single child made a lot of sculptures from that!

The green pieces above the water are fragments of waveboards which was the top of a tiny market in my hometown, Debrecen. The plant-like parts are papyruses, what we see in Fonte Aretusa, Syracusa, Sicily. It was “majestical” like Ricky Baker and Hector said in Taika Waititi’s masterpiece: Hunt for the wilder people. 

Something like that…

You are currently presenting a new show, ‘Just a perfect day’, at Longtermhandstand, Budapest. Could you talk about your new works that you’re showing there?

It was a duo show with my girl Mónika Kárándi, curated by Péter Bencze, who’s running Everybody Needs Art. The show is focusing on our relationship, the connection between us, the work in a same studio too. One of my paintings called ‘Love, football, love’ is all about connections between childhood love (football) and adult love (Mónika). There is a pattern of my favourite match ball from the ’98 World Cup, Adidas Tricolore, the iron soccer goal from the playground between the panel houses where I grew up, and a key chain what we only had when we went out. And the Adidas originals logo going to a bouquet of tulips in the painting, which refers to my present love as I said. I also exhibit a ceramic bouquet for which Móni made a ceramic vase.

Besides these works – with the ‘Memories don’t exist’ too – there are some of my drawings about our dog, Rozi (I also drew one of them in the ‘Memories don’t exist’ painting).

In your bio you point out that ‘the observation of the figurative and non-figurative from the perspective of the abstraction is a general characteristic of my paintings. More precisely, the how of the reduction of forms and content, occasionally the diverging from the starting-point, then the settling down on the diverse scale of the detachment are the standard characteristics’.; Is it like a current painting series inspired by the field of abstraction that you try to concentrate on this period or other clearly figurative styles and motifs interest you as well?

Clearly the latter one. In recent times I’m working with more figurative motifs combined with less obvious forms. That’s because last year there was an unexpected incident in my life which transformed my work more personal and sensitive I guess. It’s interesting despite the fact that my works became more personal, everyone says that it’s easier to connect them now.

Do specific artworks have been created by random experiments in your studio or do you usually come up with a particular concept or narrative in the very beginning of your artistic process?

Mostly the concept, the idea is the first before I’m starting to work. Even though I like painting by random experiments, in recent times I work less and less in this way.

Talking about the “planar and spatial connections” in your works or other spatial references that you are keen on dealing with your art themes that are also highlighted in your statement, I wonder whether the size of a canvas is able to affect your initial plans about one new painting. Does a smaller or larger surface affect the final result?

This is a very important question! When I paint, I’m usually thinking in a bigger space: I often make ensembles like painting-sculpture pairs, or I love to make murals too if I have opportunity to make an exhibition. For example, at my last solo in January I exhibited 3 paintings with 3 objects, and I painted a mural which was a painting blown apart to pieces. I painted each motif to different parts of the wall.

So sure I work in my studio day-by-day, paint canvases, but when it comes to install an exhibition I really like to involve the actual space in my plans.

What would be the best way to exhibit your work?

In addition to what I mentioned above I love to make something occasional, works for just the period of my exhibition, to being together with the space. To make something momentary in terms of my work. I love the way how they are distorted over time, to will be just memories to fall apart further…

I’m sure the best way is working with somebody who is open minded to exhibit unsellable-like works too for the best for the show.

Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?

First, I have to say my studio mates whom I admire: my girlfriend, Mónika Kárándi, and my best friend, Luca Sára Rózsa. They are amazing!

From the past, for example I love the works of Magritte, the stunning still lifes of Morandi. Really like the thinking of Marcel Duchamp or Man Ray, the strange but funny ideas of Ben Vautier. From the Hungarian art history, I need to mention Lajos Vajda for sure.

But I guess I’m mainly inspiring by movies, I love the work of Taika Waititi, Yorgos Lanthimos, David Lynch, Ari Aster or Anders Thomas Jensen. They all make so smart and mind-blowing films.

What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?

Three of us are working in a studio in Budapest. We are working in perfect harmony, make exhibitions every year (with our friend and ex-studio mate, Adrienn Dér) called ‘PÚDER’, organise an art residency every year in the countryside of Hungary, in Jákotpuszta. We are working in a studio house so there are more artist friends in the neighborhood, which is so cool too.

I’m not really a messy painter, I like when it’s cleanliness around, but I have a lot of ‘treasures’, just little things that I like for some reason. There are beautiful plants too, I love them. Our friend’s artworks on the wall, classic. And the most important is the little kitchen-part where we can cook the delicious and life-saving coffees!

Which are your plans for the near future?

First of all, we are getting ready for the 5th PÚDER group exhibition, that we have been doing for 5 years. I’ll continue the ‘Memories don’t exist’ series foreseeably with sculptures too. And I have a plan for an exhibition with a full-wall mural with framed – like a painting -plexiglasses hanged on it. These won’t be completely transparent, like a sandblasted glass, so the visible ‘picture’ will be outside of the canvas-like-plexis.

Additional Paintings

Attila Bagi, Big boys don’t cry, 155 x150 cm, oil, spray on canvas, 2021
Attila Bagi, M installation, cermic, hay variable dimensions, 2022
Attila Bagi, Big boys don’t cry (the stolen backboard) 147 x 143 cm, oil, spray on canvas, 2021
Attila Bagi, Big boys don’t cry (only two may stay),162 x 150 cm, oil, spray, pencil on canvas and the sculpture poliurethane foam, acrystal, enamel, 2021
Attila Bagi, Love, football, love, 170 x 150 cm, oil, acrylic, graphite, spray on canvas, 2022


All images courtesy of the artist

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