The exhibition entitled Magical Nature presents the works of Czech artist Günter Hujber, one of the most important creators of contemporary ex libris and intaglio printmaking, particularly of the dry point (pointe sèche) technique and burin engraving. It is not by chance that Oradea has been chosen to host this printmaking exhibition, given the consonance between the aesthetics of the city and of Günter Hujber’s art, both drawn from Art Nouveau and presenting the same elegance of lines and shapes.
In Hujber’s universe nature is not seen as landscape, but the variations of the female body, of the flora and fauna that the artist transforms through metamorphosis, with great craftsmanship, into fabulous fragments, similarly to a magician.
One of the exhibition series has as subject the labyrinth and its implications. It is noteworthy how an entire mix of cultural references are interconnected in an imaginative manner, creations and creators from various eras of the European culture, paraphrases from Titian’s works, from Hieronymus Bosch, Sigmund Freud’s portrait, and references to Chekhov’s writings. The entire exhibition can be seen as a labyrinth, in which the imaginary traveler meets characters of various origins: some from ancient mythology, others representing well-known characters from paintings of the old masters, and even literary and musical figures. Throughout this entire periplus of references, we encounter the dominant motifs of the magical-erotic play (initiated by the female protagonists) and the presence of the fantastic in its various forms. In this sense, we can consider that these are Günter Hujber’s artistic engines; he specifies that, in his opinion, ‘myths, the beauty of the human body and sexuality are eternal in art, and not only. They are fundamental in life, in history, and are an important part of our lives, important for our fantasies and dreams, so that we can escape everyday reality’.
Even with his choice of literary works, Günter Hujber opts for literature that has supernatural content. One of the remarkable works of the exhibition is the series dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, a project created to the initiative of editor Antonín Krejčíř and his KreAt workshop in Brno. The exhibited pieces include the stencils of the prints (the copper plates, respectively) and the prints themselves accompanied by the book which presents side by side Poe’s text translated to several languages and the intaglio illustrations of the Czech artist. The aforementioned series is a (re)contextualization of Poe’s poem into the artist’s erotic vision, where even Eleonora’s image becomes erotic. Another series is dedicated to a folklore-inspired collection of poems written by Czech author Karel Jaromír Erben in the 19th century. In these, macabre and tragic elements are placed into a miraculous registry.
The metaphoric and symbolic content in Günter Hujber’s printmaking oscillates, with its according polarities, between darkness and light, including the actual presence of the two (anthropomorphized) stars, the Sun and the Moon, with the two often befriending each other. It is hard to say to which side the artistic universe inclines, the audience is invited to discover themselves where light is and where darkness hides. Furthermore, visitors may even meet the artist who, similarly to an alchemist watching over his fantasy-like inventions, wanders around his exhibited works.
Curator: Rada Niță