“Being from CEE [Central and Eastern European Countries] I believe in this project and in its mission. Many artists from this region are overlooked for various reasons. Creating a space which gives a regional platform and aims to connect them to Asia and to an international audience is a great and big goal.”
The 2020 December Digital Cover documents Eszter Csillag, Art Director of Q Contemporary in interaction with her most recent curatorial work.
Disclaimer: this cover is a digital experience bound to real-time events and relationships, therefore cannot be replicated.
Csillag creates a map out of the curated artworks exhibited in Q Contemporary. This image documents the end of the interactive process, illustrating her way of thinking that led to the current collection of the gallery.
Eszter Csillag studied art history in Rome. After completing her BA and MA, she moved to Hong Kong in 2015, where she is currently in the last year of her Ph.D. at the Art History Department at Hong Kong University. “My focus is on the circulation of natural history images from China which were sent to Europe in the seventeenth century. However, I have always been working while studying. In Italy I was research assistant to a professor, then I worked for a private collector and also built up the digital archive for a painter. After moving to Hong Kong I worked at Pearl Lam Galleries and now I am the Art Director of Q Contemporary.” - says Csillag who has been building a collection since the foundation of the gallery with a focus on Central Eastern European contemporary art. In September 2021 Q Contemporary opened a beautiful space in Budapest. The Founder and Owner of the gallery is Queenie Rosita Law from Hong Kong. “For Q Contemporary it is important that we do projects outside of the CEE region as it happened at the beginning of this year at K11Musea in collaboration with K11 Art Foundation where we co-curated an exhibition entitled “Tracing the Fragments”.” - explains Csillag who is responsible for the collection, programming and exhibitions.
THE Qu & A
What are 3 relevant problems that you wish to solve through your work?
Being from CEE I believe in this project and in its mission. Many artists from this region are overlooked for various reasons. Creating a space which gives a regional platform and aims to connect them to Asia and to an international audience is a great and big goal.
Under this big goal I would put those researches we have been doing on certain artists we discovered. They often lack English publications or elaborate archives on which to rely on. I wish to help to fill up these gaps.
Finally, create a dialogue between East and East which has never been trend
What are 3 values that you wish to mediate through your work?
I definitely wish to do further research and nurture my understanding of the region and the artists who live in it. Through my work I wish to educate the audience and I try to be a bridge between art and the viewer. Last but not least, I wish that the artists we work with receive a meaningful impact through our work.
How does creativity help in challenging times to keep you energized - “CHARGED”?
Art is often seen as a luxury in our life. I grew up with it and I see it differently. Art is an integral part of human’s life just like science and other fields of knowledge. It does not have a direct effect on our every-day life, that’s true, but it does have an impact on how we live our life. We built a civilized world and art is an important segment of it. In challenging times I need to look at the core message of some of the artworks and artists’ practice and remind me how important it is that they exist. That recharges me without having any more excuses.
The first set of images show you in interaction with Dora Maurer’s work. Tell us briefly the story behind the artwork, how you first came across it, and how your perception of it evolved over time? What role did the piece and the artist play in your work as the Art Director of Q Contemporary?
Dora Maurer is one of the most important Hungarian artists of her generation. She is one of the good examples of those who received recognition in the past few years. She had an important exhibition at Tate Modern in 2019/2020 and now she is represented by one of the important international galleries, White Cube.
The work we projected on the wall is called “Bicinies 5” from 2015. It is 25 x 126 cm, its elongated size allowed me to act in front of it in three parts. This is a late work of hers, she painted it when she was seventy-eight years old. I had the chance to talk about this work and this series with people who saw a lot. They always agreed on how fresh this work was. At this age it is very rare to see someone creating something so new and something which is yet so embedded in her early works. Her works were always very strictly controlled and her paintings were part of the tradition of geometry. Here, she is able to merge geometry and movement by bringing in colours. The colours shed light on the freezed geometric shapes. She created an absolutely delicate and soft work which instead of denying the strict tradition of geometry it embraces it but also moves on. I think that is simply fantastic!
The second set of images are a reflection of your relationship to the artworks curated in Q Contemporary. We captured the final moment of the interactive process, after you layed out a “map” of the artworks on the wall. What was your thought process while creating this map?
The map on the wall shows how we often work with images. You have to see them together and create connections, find the relationship in between. There are various ways to do this, you can work in both directions: having works which you need to put in groups and create an order or having a concept and finding works which resonate with that. Here, I was rather playful and the connections are very loose. When you work on an exhibition it is important that you find things in common between works. For example works which have the same style, or the same technique, or the artists share something in common, maybe they are all women.
The process has to be revised many times and it takes time to clarify an initial idea.
Our volume is titled SILVER LINING. In 3 words, how would you describe the positive prospects during an art directorial process that will get you through any tough situations?
Volume V, Issue CHARGED.
Cover star: @eszter.csillag
Styling / MUA: @itscarolinefung
Creative Direction / Fashion Editing: @juliahorvath.concept
Written and edited by Julia Horvath
Image Courtesy of GAHSP Media
The projected and displayed artworks are the Courtesy of Q Contemporary