Robert Horvath

Slick glamour and grotesque glitter converge in Indianapolis-based Robert Horvath’s newest body of work. The show features seven oil paintings and six sculptures; the latter of which are created to act as reference for the paintings but add an additional sense of anomaly to the collection. This sense of incongruous, convulsive beauty seems to lie at the heart of the show and creates a subtle tension between the works. The oil paintings, all featuring otherworldly abstractions of conjured cosmos, are composed in the Old-World master style of painting. This technique includes glazing, an intense and long process that involves building thin layers of paint on the canvas to create dimension. Horvath’s skilled approach to this technique creates an ironic hyper-realistic mirage. The paintings appear to have the look of photographs, but the contents are wholly imagined.

While the paintings take on slick faux realism, the sculptures appear to rebel against the traditional techniques of their counterparts. Assembled from found objects such as neon Easter eggs, hardened glitter and plastic chandelier crystals, they exist as maquettes for the paintings. Elaborate and dizzyingly colorful, they appear as exposed alien organs and futuristic headdresses ribbed with rhinestones and oozing, thick foam. It’s hard to imagine the same artist could create both forms, but the evidence is in the paintings. The shapes of crystals and foam are apparent in the work while freckled glitter show up in pieces such as “Nerofraud.”

The dark humor of Horvath is most evident in his titles. With names such as “Brain Candy” and “15 Minutes of Fame,” a bit more of his intentions are revealed. When asked about his work, he replies with questions:

“What happens when glamour loses it’s bodily functions? What happens when you stick your finger in it? Is it rotten?”

This focus on glamour began in earlier works when Horvath was still using human models coated in layers of thick makeup to explore his themes of faux glamour and the underbelly of club nightlife. Since the deletion of figures within his paintings, he has more fully explored the idea of what exists within the flawless exterior of luxury and popular culture. While some of the paintings portray whole orbs with mutant growths of brightly lit light sabers and glittering diamonds, others appear broken open, their guts exuding toxic poison or perfume into their respective stratospheres. With the addition of calculated and sharp geometric shapes, the blobs of pearls and bridges of jeweled strings gain a more grotesque nature, appearing gelatinous and alive.

The tension between the forms of the work and its themes plays out wonderfully in the gallery. While it is evident that the sculptures could serve as reference, they also take on a playful tone as the youthful knockoffs of the elaborate and flawless oil paintings. The beauty and the grotesqueness of the works appeal to our culture’s habit of revering the luxury and glamour that most of the population can’t afford, it exposes its flaws and it’s triumphs, all while retaining a witty sense of humor.

Profile by J.L.Schnabel

Image: "BRAINCANDY," Robert Horvath

Artist's Interview here.


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