Reviews

Emil Fuer’s amusing paintings have a highly individual way of presenting an association of ideas.
In his pictures, well-known motifs and figures appear in an unusual form, often reinterpreted in bizarre associations and combined with curious elements. Angels dressed in red with black hair and black wings or wearing a hat and Hasidic garb; grim and nasty-looking hares; devils with enormous twisted horns – or adorned with peacock feathers. He represents the elements of reality, especially paradox situations, mixed together with mythical and surreal creatures, embedded in a unique symbolism. In this complex system the paintings reflect upon one another, and are to be interpreted as closely-connected elements of a serial story.

The paintings are inspired, among others, by well-known literary works, stories, legends and often famous film stars, celebrities or mythical figures. For example, Houdini the legendary escape artist, or Bela Lugosi, the first to impersonate Dracula on the silver screen. You also have the anthropomorphic Mr. Rabbit from Lewis Carroll’s Alice story. Alice’s story is an important point of reference in other respects, too. The surreal underworld of the stories created by Lewis Carroll, the bizarre and grotesque adventures and characters, the mystery and hidden meaning so typical of his fiction appear in every detail of the paintings. Alice, Houdini and Lugosi end up in the same place, as if they were characters in the same story. They are projected onto each other like holographs and always carry some meaning, regardless of what angle they are viewed from.

The connection between the pictures and the various sources is maintained by a ubiquitous irony and grotesqueness which is present in all his figures and situations. We could hardly imagine a more grotesque or bizarre scene than Houdini and Dracula-impersonator Bela Lugosi sitting face to face, jovially having breakfast. A mobile phone is lying on the table between them – by way of explanation as to how the meeting came about.

Every painting, in one form or another, contains a disguise. The message and essence of the images lie hidden within the finest details and nuances. The picture as a whole is assembled from a myriad of carefully selected details, from a synthesis of forms and colours, and from the movements and expressions of the figures. Emil expresses human characteristics, attitudes, and moods by the means of irony and grotesque humour. Hidden behind the bright colours and the gaiety of the clearly arranged compositions there lie a profound message and thought-provoking content. In the eyes of the seemingly innocent and sometimes clumsy figures one can discover mature wisdom and self-confident, critical individuality.

Another, inseparable aspect of the interpretation of the pictures is the Jewish cultural and religious context which is ever-present in one way or other in his figures and scenes, sometimes in very subtle and sometimes in more obvious ways, mostly with concealed self-irony and sarcasm. These two concepts are connected to the Jewish culture in a way, built into the way of life, the everyday, helping to overcome obstacles and imparting wisdom.

 

His paintings are visual representations of paradoxical conceptual games, where past and present, legend and reality come together. He avoids using archaic and other conventional stereotypes; everything appears encased into an individual symbolic system – like a reflection in a mirror. In this colourful and complex visual world, there appear some central themes of modern life as well, and thus his images continuously reflect on the present. In his paintings, the strands all come together and the meaning emerges in a single pause of a moment or in the movements of the figures. However, the drifting dynamism of his compositions captures the attention for a short while only, since in the next moment the narrative is moved forward by our own thoughts. This bold association game and story can always be continued as creative fantasy weaves it on. The key to the game is the role-plays of the familiar and yet unusual characters, which guide us towards the essence which cannot be grasped, only personally experienced. Only through the inside, as a personal impression.

Victoria Rosenstein
Art historian