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  • Writer's pictureHinton Magazine

Istvan Nyari, a modern hyperrealist who creates movie-like paintings

István Nyári is one of the most prolific figures of Hungarian hyperrealism who has developed an international career and he is based between Budapest and Amsterdam. Always approaching painting with the attitude of a film director, István seeks to place realistic characters into fictitious scenarios in his art that could happen in real life but due to their grotesque, surreal nature, never do.

Frequently employing a vivid colour palette, István’s hyperrealist artworks, predominantly acrylic on canvas, account for exceptional technical mastery about which he is questioned often, though he much prefers to discuss the concept behind them, believing that valuable art is beyond technical aspects.

This is the last week to enjoy István just had his first solo show in London at David Kovats Gallery. The show brought together 7 large scale works, vividly coloured paintings, confronted by carefully staged, hyperrealist compositions crowded with kaleidoscopic detail. This was a show-stopper exhibition thanks to the vivid colours, intense scenes, giving visitors the sense that they are exploring a crime scene, driving their curiosity.

Born in Hungary in 1952, István grew up in an artistic household. He followed studies to become a diplomat but he then decided to devote himself to his artistic practice instead. After spending time in the 80s New York as well as Brussels and London. He now resides between Amsterdam and Budapest. A prolific and high-profile figure on the Hungarian art scene, István’s oeuvre could be interpreted as a Pop Surrealist commentary on late-capitalist consumerism and its omnipresent media.

In his works, István sometimes addresses weighty questions with satirical wit and humour, while more often he draws on familiar characters of popular culture, reimagining them in playful, daring and outright shocking ways. István follows contemporary politics and culture while he prefers to cover universally translatable matters of popular culture that people from all walks of life can relate to.

Among István’s favoured and exercised art forms is portraiture — of close friends, family and himself. In contrast to his treatment of other themes, these offer a gentler, more affectionate and intimate atmosphere, demonstrated by the 2010 painting, My Son Benjamin — The Lord of the Rings, which was exhibited at London’s National Portrait Gallery. Still, many of his portraits feature unexpected or grotesque twists — a sly balancing act between meticulously-crafted reality and fantasy.

According to the artist “truly valuable art is distinguished by its ability to bring imaginary subjects to life that can only exist because of the painter’s creativity and mastery. “I like to work with imaginary situations, objects and scenarios, inspired or intrigued by current affairs, pop culture and life, while giving them a cinematic twist”, he adds.

This exhibition was the first out of the three summer solo exhibitions presented at the gallery space, highlighting the work of emerging and established Hungarian artists such as Gábor Király and Bazil Duliskovich, introducing their work to London’s arts scene for the first time.

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