August 05, 2019
Tate Modern, LondonFrom black and white films made in her kitchen to glorious geometric designs, the Hungarian artist’s career has blossomed since the end of communist rule
Dóra Maurer review – the dissident who rebelled in colour
Dóra Maurer’s impressive creativity since the end of Soviet control and communist one-party rule in Hungary in 1989 is an exception to a dispiriting rule. Many creative artists whose imaginations rebelled against the communist states of eastern Europe faded after their countries became democratic. Was the challenge of dissidence a spur to creativity? Or is capitalist democracy destructive in its own banal, populist way? The novels of Milan Kundera and films of Jan Švankmajer are examples of that lost urgency, and – in Švankmajer’s case – funding, after the fall of communism. So it’s heartening that Maurer, who spent much of her life making dissident art in a totalitarian state, has done her best work since that state collapsed.
It’s worth looking at her artistic life backwards. Go right to the end of Tate Modern’s enlightening, and free, survey of her subversive career to be delighted by the paintings she does today. Maurer’s flights of colour include interleaving waves of blue, green and yellow, curves of red rushing towards blue and orange rectangles, and interlapping grids of too many colours to count. The most recent of these joyous paintings that spin off across walls and around corners as they defy the idea of a closed picture surface is dated 2016. Maurer, born in 1937 in Budapest, is in the swim of creativity today and producing paintings that are simultaneously installations, with hard, bright geometries knocked sideways by some crazy libertarian impulse.
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