Between Presence and Absence: Paintings by Istvan Sandorfi

Istvan Sandorfi - painting, surreal people
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Istvan Sandorfi was a Hungarian surrealist painter who died in 2007 at the age of 59. Not many people seem to know of his work today (he himself had a modest opinion of his ability, claiming “I never had the impression that I really knew how to paint”), but his mind-bending experiments depicting the simultaneous presence and absence of the figural body deserve wide recognition. People appear and disappear, contorting and collapsing with the muscular drama of Baroque paintings, but dissolving into darkness or cold, institution-like rooms. Trapped in purgatory, the figures float between this world and the next, between human subjectivity and the object of a corpse. It is hard to believe that Sandorfi achieved these effects with a paintbrush, but his work invokes an unparalleled realism that resonates deeply with both the logical and emotional brain.

Istvan Sandorfi - painting, twisted, distorted figures Istvan Sandorfi - painting, dissolving bodies Istvan Sandorfi - painting, men and birds
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Istvan Sandorfi - painting, figure covered in sheets Istvan Sandorfi - painting, arched body Istvan Sandorfi - painting, reclining nude women Istvan Sandorfi - painting, two sitting figures with covered faces Istvan Sandorfi - painting, torso Istvan Sandorfi - painting, disembodied hand painting
Images © Jane Kahan Gallery and Friends of Sandorfi

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Hayley Evans is a freelance writer and editor hailing from Montréal. Her affinity is with the written word and anything that is dark, beautiful, erotic, or strange. Follow the author @ and view more articles.