Szabolcs Bozó is an artist on the rise. His infantile and ‘naive’ style of art deconstructs the nostalgia of childhood to shine a light on memory and various cartoonish depictions of joy. Seen through the eyes of an adult and reimagined by the hand of this Hungarian artist, we can see the unsettling absurdity that underpinned our formative years.
Capturing and reframing childhood isn’t a new concept, but is one that has rarely been done as deftly and with the same nous as Bozó, who somehow manages to bring out the shadow of his character’s psyche. Through a mixture of his palette and the tone - from the shifty eyes to the vaguely unnatural postures - the artist gives his characters an edge, something more mature than might appear at first sight.
Painted scrappily, as if a kind of watercolour based paint is being hastily scrubbed across ceramic, the blocks of colour are semi-opaque, unfinished in the same way as you’d expect to see in a painting by your child that is tacked onto your fridge. It’s this evocative sense of ‘okay, I’m done’ that children lose in adulthood, becoming wrapped up in the perception of others, where overthinking becomes the norm.
His imagination isn’t just limited to emulating a child’s carefree approach to art, though. The fact is, he isn’t a child and has to paint as both learned and un-learned. Therefore, when we appreciate the multitude of colours used or the fantastical shapes and figures, we must also appreciate the true archival nature of the depth he has managed to tap into, this primitive side so often buried away.
Just as a coy smile might ripple across your lips viewing the paintings, remembering being the architect behind such attempts in your own youth, there are jokes reserved for adults on display too - a double-entendre reserved for some of the most iconic cartoon shows of all time (see The Simpsons). Some are subtle, like the toothily disconcerting expressions worn by his characters. Others less so, for example when his figures are manipulated into spelling ‘FUCK YOU’, or ‘GIN TONIC’.
These various concepts and themes were neatly gathered for his most recent show ‘The Explorer’ in Carl Kostyál London. Framed triptychs’ contain surrealistic visions on messy paper that were side-by-side with much larger pieces filled with single characters, composites of every cartoon ever seen. They remind you of everything and nothing at the same time.
The title is also indicative of how he sees himself and where he situates his art. It’s a title that’s as endearing and honest as it is simple. This is an artist on a rapid trajectory of discovery - of self, art and yet more influences from which to construct new works. It’s an exciting new world that seems full of opportunity, not just for Bozó, but everyone that views the world through his paintings.
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