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Culture and Museums - Articles

Good Morphing: the urban artwork of Vidam enters an altered state

Photo: Brody Art Yard

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 — Nick Robertson

A common presence divides almost every image in the newly opened Budapest exhibit of fresh paintings by Vidam the Weird: a mysterious translucent plane slicing through the cartoonish figures that populated the oeuvre of this Berlin-based artist up to now. On one side of the ethereal plane, the subjects appear like vividly animated characters in a particularly hip children’s book, but on the other side the attributes of each embodiment become blurred into something more enigmatic and less easily defined, in several respects.

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It would be easy to surmise that this series represents a major change in the aesthetic approach of Vidam the Weird, but since his lifework is distinguished by consistently dramatic changes that even he cannot fully explain, viewers are left to ponder exactly what they see in these intriguing depictions of dual worlds. Nonetheless, the “Transformation” exhibition of Vidam’s recent works that is now on view in downtown Pest’s Brody Art Yard clearly portrays the ongoing evolution of an imaginative young visionary who may also feel caught between multiple worlds.

Photo: Vidam the Weird

Born in Budapest in 1983, Attila Szamosi spent most of his childhood in a small town in Germany, going on to study as a professional illustrator before joining Berlin’s thriving underground art scene. There he adopted the moniker “Vidam” (meaning “Happy” in Hungarian) and began applying his visual talents to public spaces with graffiti, later joining the innovative collective of street artists spread across Germany and Austria called “The Weird”. From here Vidam went on to paint dazzlingly colorful murals in Germany, France, Portugal, Bosnia, and other nations, all offering unflinching interpretations of varied social issues through the disarming presence of bright caricatures engaging in funny behavior.

Photo: Vidam the Weird

As his first solo exhibition in his native city, “Transformation” finds Vidam apparently entering a more subdued era of his career, as his usually vibrant palette is largely restricted to earth tones, and his preferred painting surfaces are simple slabs of smooth wood. The images feature characters familiar to those who have followed Vidam’s past work (or passed by it on the street), yet they are obviously in a state of warping through that mystifying plane – in one of them, a frequently portrayed figure called “The Farmerdude” seems to be tumbling backwards and morphing from a clear-cut delineation to an almost liquefied state of striated matter that simultaneously drips up and down, apparently confused as to its own spatial orientation.

Photo: Brody Art Yard

Adjacent to this, another wooden canvas portrays a soft-edged-yet-cracked bunny head wearing silly sunglasses and surrounded by floating coins; below the triangular plane that this rabbit is suspended within, the figure is transmogrified into a woven basket of thorny branches, perhaps more organic in its nature but certainly harder to feel, and definitely not enveloped by freely flowing money.

Photo: Brody Art Yard

Other intriguing works on wood include a humanoid apparently composed entirely of hair braids passing especially tumultuously through a rather jagged plane, with useless-looking ID cards flapping about from the bushy being’s wrists. One of the most colorful pieces of the collection – painted on the underside of a wooden skateboard deck – shows a geometrically shaded gray dolphin splashing through a light blue plane with an electric-pink silhouette left in its wake.

Photo: Brody Art Yard

These paintings are complemented in the exhibit with an impressive set of complex silkscreen prints that crisply capture Vidam’s imagery, all made on the gallery’s premises. In addition to displaying his visual talents in “Transformation”, Vidam is also sharing his sonic creativity by performing DJ sets during his time in Budapest – on October 8 at 8:30pm, he plays an eclectic blend of tunes at Brody Art Yard’s booth amid the opening events of Art Market Budapest, where he will also produce a new painting as passersby watch over the following two days, allowing the public to witness his continuing transformation firsthand.

“Transformation” is now on view Brody Art Yard – check out their Facebook page for more information.

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