Francis Carr

Francis Carr was born Gèza Spitzer in Budapest in 1919. Carr’s artistic odyssey is a testament to resilience, adaptation, and the unyielding power of artistic expression. From fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe to pioneering silk screen printing in the UK, Carr’s life is a tapestry of courage, creativity, and innovation.

Ádám Dóra (b. 1993, Vác, Hungary) is a Budapest-based visual artist and painter. With his practice rooted in the abstract tradition, Dóra’s most recent body of paintings depicts colourful sneakers in a cartoonish, Pop style.

The series is inspired by the sneaker as a symbolic fashion trope and socio-cultural motif, deconstructed into tactile, abstract compositions of form and colour. These in turn encourage free association and reflect on the aesthetic shifts of contemporary culture.

In the following interview for the David Kovats Viewing Room, we asked Ádám to tell us more about his background, his Sneaker paintings, some of the main influences on his work and some projects he has coming up in the pipeline.

Could you tell us a bit about how you came to art? Where did you study, and how did that shape your practice?

My interest in art and images started at a very young age; even in kindergarten, I spent most of my time drawing, painting and flicking through picturebooks. As this curiosity started to deepen in my teens, I ended up in the studio of Hungarian painter Ágnes Mészáros in my home town of Vác, where I had the chance to learn the foundations of classical painting and drawing, as well as art history. This was the moment when my vocation of pursuing further studies, and eventually a professional career in Fine Art truly crystallised.

Since my sensitivity and interest was unequivocally focused on painting, I applied to MFA in Painting programme at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, where I studied for 6 years under two wonderful masters, Zsigmond Károlyi and Zoltán Ötvös. Their mentorship and the shared studio time and milieu with fellow students has largely defined the course of my career.

Your Sneaker series developed during lockdown – can you tell us a bit more about these works and the inspiration behind them?

A contemplative attitude and everyday observations have already informed the subject of my previous paintings. During the pandemic, I started noticing these sneakers on the empty streets as they bear a likeness to a leaf, a cloud, a rock or the roots of trees, at the same time as being industrially mass-produced using plastic, artificial leather and other such materials. They offer almost endless variations in terms of form and colour, which elicited ideas and plans for painterly compositions.

Looking at your work as a whole, your main interest seems to be in the vein of abstraction. How does this interest manifest in these recent paintings?

I believe that in today’s world, where we are being constantly oversaturated with visual information, it’s important to create artworks in a medium that’s justified in terms of its ability to be received by the viewer. In my case, I attempt to create paintings where painting itself is at the centre of enquiry – like in the Sneaker series. The notion of tactility inherent to this subject matter allows me to explore different textures and material sensitivities through personal gesture-systems. Movement and the mark of the hand play an important role in my works.
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// To view the list of available works, please visit our showroom. //

Could you tell us about your process of creating the Sneaker works – do they require a lot of planning, how long does one painting take to complete…?

Each of the paintings in this series requires a long period of planning. My first consideration is the ratio of colours and surfaces, followed by compositional sketches. I work on multiple pieces at the same time and the relationships between these determine the final body of work for an exhibition and series. Alongside the larger canvases, I also make smaller works on paper as independent artworks, though some of these become enlarged in painting form later on. As I always say, my best works always take the shortest time to produce. I think it can happen easily to overwork a painting, and then it completely loses its energy, its radiance.

How does the Pop, cartoonish style of these works tie in with their subject matter? I’m thinking particularly of its social commentary aspect, which is also a feature of Pop Art.

The sneaker as a status symbol and token of the current Zeitgeist is a very simple and conspicuous object that can appear in countless shapes and colours. The fact that they’re so ubiquitous and fulfil an identity-defining role is an exciting twist for me, because my works are rooted in a traditional painterly practice. This can make the works contemporary at the same time as timeless, depending on how people view them. Craft, precise sizing and organic materials have been essential to the shaping of fashion culture, which are now being increasingly replaced by the opposite – synthetic materials, futuristic design and an inaccurate sizing. I’m reflecting on this curious and often shocking aesthetic shift through my newest paintings.

This is your first presentation in the UK, even if only virtually – how do you think your works sit within the context of the UK / London art scene? Are you inspired by any emerging painters currently working here? Anyone you would love to show with?

I’ve been following the talented established and emerging artists on the London scene for a long time. David Hockney’s work comes to mind right away, which I’ve always liked and has influenced me significantly. There are multiple artists from blue-chip galleries like David Zwirner for example that I can relate to in terms of my practice, but it would be hard to list exact names – I often end up finding artists interesting, who might seem far from my own work at a first glance.

What direction do you see the Sneakers series evolving?

It’s hard to give a precise answer to what the next series might be; my works typically develop as a part of a consistent process with many different tangents and possible outcomes. One tendency I can put my finger on is that when comparing my newer Sneaker works to the ones from two years ago, there is a clear shift from a portrait-like representation towards abstraction. On my most recent paintings, the shoe is barely recognisable as a concrete motif; instead it’s a blend of geometric forms and landscape elements. It’s likely that this exploration will result in a new motif surfacing in the compositions.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re excited about?

Earlier this year two of my larger works appeared at auctions amongst many respected Hungary-based and international artists, which is a huge honour. Over the course of 2023, I’m going to attend a number of residencies, as well as working towards solo and group presentations.

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In order to view the complete list of works, please visit our showroom.
Should you wish to enquire about any of the works, the artist or our programme, please get in touch via email.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Text/Interview by Sonja Teszler
Photos by © István Juhász, Réka Hegyháti, Ádám Dóra