Extract from the opening speech of Eszter Anna Major on the occasion of the exhibition of Szilvia Terdik (9 March 2016)
“When Szilvi called and asked me to act in this most honourable task to open her new art exhibition, I was immediately thrilled by the paintings and the exhibition itself. Not only because Szilvi’s work reflects her perception of reality via a very interesting frame of symbols, but also because the topic itself has surprised me with so many interesting aspects and coats of different layers that I was immediately obsessed with it. If we are brave and open enough to contemplate, make associations and draw parallels whilst standing in front of her works of art, we can feel her desires, fears, memories, experiences, questions and answers. So please allow me the privilege of analysing her pieces of art so that we can all get closer to them and feel as if they have long been familiar.
Nevertheless I am not convinced about the necessity. Szilvia Terdik’s paintings are precise and playful. On one hand they aim to criticise while on the other hand, they remind us of the innocent, unspoilt drawings of our childhood. This way we are all instantly and directly addressed. If one is aware of her earlier works, they will not be surprised by the selection of topics and the desire to provoke a multi-layered way of thinking. Szilvia Terdik has been painting for almost twenty years and has always been a fan of series. Among her favourite painters, we can find Matisse, Gauguin and Miro. She takes pleasure in immersing into different styles and techniques, taking up the character of famous painters, asking strange questions. Finding an answer does not necessarily excite her, she mainly strives for playfulness and experimenting.
The current star, her muse is THE CHAIR. The chair as the imaging of primarily the society and then that of man and the environment. A simple every day object, which appeared first on the first oil painting of the artist and then went on a long retreat only to rise up again full of wisdom, experience, novelty and deep human feelings.
Because it is the right object for that. Chairs are part of our every day life. They symbolize humanity that God has inflicted on us as they press their legs to the floor and with their back striving to reach heaven. They also symbolize the two levels of existence, the material rooted in the ground and the transcendent looking up to the skies.
A chair can be real and also banal. The chair serves us. We rest in our chairs. The chair offers us a seat. Chairs are the sculptures of solitude in the world. When no one takes them, they are empty, but if someone sits on it, given that they are generally for one person, the chair sends us into exile. A chair is not like an armchair or a bed, it is not for sitting comfortably on. It is a moment of rest in the every day life of a human and thus thumbs its nose at time, hours, days and years. There may be several or just one chair during our lifetime, the one that our grandpa used to sit on and has been empty ever since. A chair can also be an artistic metaphor as the paintings surrounding us reach out as if they were characters winking at us in the form of a careful and discrete mirror. Vincent Van Gogh only needed two chairs to put his tragic friendship with Gaugain on canvas full of pain, repressed emotions and distance.
On Szilvia’s paintings, chairs almost become humans, thinking and feeling beings. The artist expresses the immense, demolishing and autocratic nature of power as well as the eternal truth of relativity. Szilvia Terdik’s brush keeps changing its focus: sometimes it takes the role of the oppressor, sometimes the oppressed. At other times it takes a bird’s eye view. Sometimes her chairs reach out for the sky, other times they are rooted in the soil. There are times when they pit against each other, break into pieces, become machines, stand as a model, dissolve in each other, make Calvary or as Van Gogh did, they stare at us lonely and with a sad face. The metaphor is intentionally mixed: apparently any emotion could be projected via these four-legged objects of the paintings, still one cannot see eyes, mouth, face, wrinkles, regards or gestures. Szilvia Terdik’s chairs are able to tell us their story without all these. They make a wish, mourn, accuse and hurt. These chairs are us, these chairs are fates, lives, examples and moments of time. About everybody and anybody. Her chairs are wrinkles and creases on the face of time, which would only settle if courted, if stories are behind them, if we feel their fallibility, similarity, uniqueness and naked existence.
An author’s task is to imagine himself a leaf, the musician’s task is to make the leaf dance, the painter’s task is make us believe that a leaf is more than a simple leaf. Undoubtedly, Szilvia Terdik’s chairs are more than chairs, more than metaphors, muses or leitmotifs. Her chairs are magnifiers, mirrors and extracts. In the meantime, they seem to be slightly sad as in the end, we are going to be all alone, and as chairs, empty and abandoned. This is how Van Gogh wrote to his brother when he heard of the death of Dickens, whose obituary was illustrated with his empty chair: : „Empty chairs, there are quite a few of them, their number is more and more and one day, there will be nothing else any more…..only empty chairs…”. An exhibition – as art in general – may have a minor overtone. Nevertheless paintings have more than one coat so that we all find our story in them and that they tell a different story to everyone. Szilvia Terdik calls us to be curious, active, make associations, contemplate and analyse as time is needed for thoughts and marvel.”