The new Nouveau Réalist: artist Peter Horvath refreshing the spirit of Rotella and Villeglé.
Peter Horvath is a photo-based and New Media artist. His work focuses on deconstructing and recontextualizing imagery through assemblage , drawing from personal and found materials. Peter Horvath’s work is included in numerous private and permanent collections internationally and his work has been exhibited in museums and galleries globally.
TWS –You started as a photographer at the age of 6 years old. We’d love to know something about your first art experiences at such an early age?
PH –My dad gave me an Instamatic camera early on so I was documenting almost everything I saw. My first “series” were portraits of my neighbourhood friends photographed in my room while each kid held one of my toys. I did this sometime around 7 years old. I suppose this could be considered my first art experience as I approached the portraits with an intention to document my friends within a specific scene with particular objects included.
TWS –After developing your skills as a photographer, at some point in your life you discovered Dadà and everything changed for you. What did you discover in those early collage artists? How did your approach to art change?
PH –Coming from a photographer’s perspective, I was blown away with the Dadaist works, particularly Hannah Höch and John Heartfield. They re-purposed photographs and ads, using collage and photo-montage techniques to bring a narrative to the images they were creating. This was a method I had previously not been exposed to and was excited by the ideas and visual appeal of what they were doing.
TWS –Can you tell us about the place of consumer culture in your narrative?
PH –Ads ads ads! Everywhere, in every moment of our day, we are constantly inundated, even in the loo! So my way of fighting back is to appropriate some of these advertisements and re-purpose them to change/bring new meaning.
TWS –Your layered collages have a temporal dimension. How’s the notion of time and decay related in your work?
PH –When I began making this work I considered how we have become a society obsessed with aging, clinging to, and in pursuit of our emblems of youth. The images of the people I choose for these portraits have a strength and vitality – I place them among the wreckage of crumbling, entropic elements, suggesting nothing lasts forever.
TWS –Your work also has influence from Mimmo Rotella and Jacques Villeglé décollage work who was based on using street advertising for their work. Can you tell us about your process of sourcing materials from the streets? How does this interaction with the city affect your work?
PH –Rotella and Villeglé were both way ahead of their time, with their idea of making art from the street. The portraits I make reflect on the collapsing and decomposing urban environment. My favourite places, in all the cities I’ve been, are those streets or parts of a city that are in decay. In my newest assemblages, I hunt for street ephemera all over the city, and once I find something that draws me in, like a wall of posters, I peel them, in pieces, off the hoarding. Usually what’s left behind looks better than it did before, often a fantastic abstract space of colourful torn edges, so I also feel I am leaving something new behind. When I get back to the studio I start pulling these heavily layered posters apart, revealing the underlying image and text from posters that were covered over many times.
TWS –Texture, paint, layers of paper, imperfections, tons of detail. I feel your work needs to be seen live to be fully appreciated. How will you approach showing your work in the post-pandemic world?
PH –Big challenges, yes? A lot of galleries are doing “virtual” exhibitions now, is this the future? My optimistic side believes that the world will eventually get to a place where we can again gather inside spaces.
TWS –What is your definition of collage?
PH –Collage – assemblage, cut and paste, scissors, glue, pieced together, digital assembly, layering, juxtaposition, overlapping, visual cacophony.