To some extent the art of István Dukai bears testament to the life he has lived so far; reflections of certain experiences of his appear in his artworks every now and then, here and there. This series draws a parallel between childhood experiences and current events: The curfew necessitated by the Balkan war is a lasting memory of the artist’s childhood, brought to the surface all the more by the current „quarantine-life” during the COVID pandemic. The circumstances may be vastly different, but the feeling of loss and being lost, of being unsure and feeling unsafe within our strong confines and altered routines are common denominators, nonetheless. The artist is to present a certain calm, a feeling of eternity and transcendent order in these works. As such reflections the artworks speak an abstract, general language.

Some materials and techniques are evocative of the artist’s childhood amidst the Balkan war: the canvas awning of military tents, hand-woven, rough linens of rural village life. Such vignettes of rugged textures and lives are subtly woven into the artworks.

The artist uses strongly abstrahising, geometric forms to convey these feelings and impressions. Such shapes and evoked textures create a visual rhythm and strong tactile sensation. The aim of the artist is to engage several senses in the viewing process.
OP-Art, the play with geometric forms, textures and depth, has a strong influence on the artworks. Equally inspirational are the bold shapes and structures of brutalist architecture in post-war Yugoslavia. István Dukai also draws from local folk art, especially textiles. These bold shapes and patterns as well as the uneven, densely woven materials are reappropriated in his work. A muted colour-palette characterises his work. The austere forms, colours and materials creates the language to express a sense of quintessential, transcendent calm that the artist hopes to convey with his works.

The works features strong contrasts and clashes. The artworks are digitally designed, mixed with traditional, manual printing techniques and materials. This duality emphasizes the engagement with the tresholds and meeting points of cyber-space and reality, of digital and human connections. The contrast between dark and light colours, between contained forms and dense, disruptive lines domineer the works. These contrasts do not only coexist, their interplay is essential in formulating the visual language the artist uses to express calm and upset, freedom and confinement, life and death.

Words: Agnes Fazakas, art historian