Both the paintings and the graphic works done by Erzsebet Nagy are by and large related to this body and action painting by the artist. However the former are more narrative in nature, a sort of visualized form of talking to oneself.
It was Sigmund Freud who gave himself a rule of thumb: “Case studies I write should read like a short-story.” The slowly emerging images of the state of mind in the patients’ reports to the psycho-analyst ought to be reproduced in the clinical report. At the same time, though, it is the task of the analysts and therapeutics to give them a form which makes it possible to grasp the tension and strain which moved the patient. The aim of the case study is to reveal the gradual emergence of images and cognizance from the depths of consciousness and the subconscious.
That’s what Nagy does. She reveals her emotions through the entire colourfulness of expression.
Perhaps as a consequence of her biography. Michael Messner, who was the first art critic to analyze Nagy’s oeuvre, writes: “She was born in Hungary in 1974 near the border with Romania. It was a world which was spared commercialization through advertising and marketing and one in which the repressive excesses of the regime which more or less filled this vacuum did not fully flourish. It was this precise situation that sharpened her eye, like the purity of a crystal or the gift of perception of a scalpel.
These biological weapons were later to come to the fore in the "Golden West" – in the sense that they offered a commitment. Like almost the entire generation of the "Wendekinder", that is children coming of age at the time of the political changes during the late 80’s, she, too, was blinded by all the pleasures and temptations of our over stimulated world. It was a time when everything seemed to be worthwhile pursuing and reachable. Our world became smaller. Neuralgic points become visible and reachable. Budapest, Bangkok, New York, Madrid, Vancouver, London and Vienna are the venues. This getting the hang of things was by no means gentle (there was no membrane to protect this infant), there was no guiding hand to accompany this person. The pure market mechanisms were unmitigated and unfiltered.“
Nagy’s sujet is herself; it emanates from the point where she brushes against the world which surrounds her. From the point where it begins to have an effect on her, to exert an influence on her. From the point where she presents herself to the world – her immediate world – in other words her very own intimate world and also where she frees herself from its embrace. At the place where she presents herself as an object of photography or else in the form of a disguise. Just as a detective wears a false beard to conceal his identity when he’s observing people’s behaviour, Nagy goes about changing her appearance by wearing different wigs.
Her sujets are always personal in nature: self-observations, self-reflections, self-questioning, self-analysis. Things range from personal experiences on a trip to New York to the analysis of relations. She always remains true to herself, even when we’re not dealing with collages containing the more or less recognizable self-portrait of the former photo model.
It is part of her essence that she works for herself in an uncompromising fashion. She does not solicit consent or applause from the beholder or even try to possibly shock anyone. Instead, she transposes her personal state of mind to the public. Nagy is conscious of the reality of the exhibitionist aspect of her being an artist. She knows that sooner or later her oeuvre will be presented to the public. But that is precisely the reason why she does not make any concessions.
Being the down-to-earth professional she is, she paints in a world caught between artistic will and professionalism on the one hand and the demands of the art market on the other.
In one of his major speeches, the Nobel Prize laureate Günther Grass, who is not only a writer, but a painter in his own right, referred to the fact the foyers and meeting rooms at the headquarters of German banks, insurance companies and governments are hung with abstract, large-format paintings. He noted that the lack of realism was tantamount to art being neutralized to serve as decoration. The mistakable backdrop pictures done by the most prominent of abstract artists which we see during TV interviews with politicians of all parties – from the left to the right of the political spectrum – is typical of the stuff we see day in, day out. Such pictures are Nagy’s contribution to the sophisticated interior design of comfortable single-family homes. In an unexcited manner signalizing modernity, they radiate colourful emotionality and expression. It is something one can put up with and something Erzsebet Nagy can live off. And there’s no need for her to be embarrassed. This part of her oeuvre is evidence of the quality craftsmanship of a trained professional graphic artist.