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Lukewarm water I. László Méhes


László Méhes Budapest, 1944 – Bry-sur-Marne, 2022

Date 1970
Object type painting
Medium, technique fibreboard, oil

60 × 80 cm

Inventory number MM92.109
Collection Contemporary Collection
On view Hungarian National Gallery Building D, Third Floor, Shifts – 20th Century art after 1945

Already as a student László Méhes developed his individual style combining surrealism and naturalism and joined the “surnaturalists” hall marked by the name of Tibor Csernus. He took part in the Iparterv exhibitions in the late 1960s as a young graduate, and these events determined his subsequent alignments from pop art through concept art to hyperrealism and later to his floating canvases made with a special method. He renewed pop art techniques of surface treatment and developed a new graphic procedure, monopoltype. He is the Hungarian founder of one of the branches of hyperrealism, photorealism. The series of Lukewarm Water was launched by his pencil drawing of 1969, Weekday, a peak of Hungarian hyperrealism. Méhes painted most pieces of the series in his new home in Paris. The basis of the classically elaborated paintings is a set of photos of an ad hoc group of people at a medicinal bath, on a trade union holiday. It is an examination of how people randomly assembled in lukewarm water behave. Méhes depicted the details impassionately, objectively, keeping a peculiar distance, which throws the banality of the situation into relief. “I am erecting a memorial to a moment of life,” he noted later. Méhes created this series at the time of the international spread of hyperrealism and the emergence of American photorealism, making a stir with his ironic and grotesque approach which is evident in the dual symbolism of the title as well: as László Beke put it, “you could not help but interpret it as hard criticism of the soft dictatorship.”
Zsuzsa Jobbágyi

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

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