"We should grab onto our brothers
and sisters, hold our darling tight, and never
let them go." Luca Nyáry
Zoltán Tombor's latest documentary series, Homeward, first exhibited in Société Budapest, presents a story set in an east-central European environment familiar to all. The exhibition is an emotional panorama, which is thread around an old and recent personal past, as well as a collective history, which presents the general and uplifting beauty of childhood; yet the melancholy of the countryside also appears. The sour-sweet Balkan thread involves a story seen through the eyes of a photographer with roots there, who returns several decades later. It is presented by the everyday existence of a free, serene and all-pervading friendship, without involving any responsible decisions, that has played an all-important role throughout life.
The series is characterised by a unique compositional method, a powerful visual style and narrative, which is made equivocal by the dual use of objective and subjective realities, and the combination of a writer's notes. We cannot and do not need to disregard the reputation of the characters and the texts written to accompany the images. That provides the series with an arranged and invented effect.
In addition, the simultaneously natural and simple narrative exempt from mannerism, and the honest series creating a pure effect lead us back to a well-known deep, gut feeling, and we are imbued with a warm thrill, which cannot be given a name or put into words.
Tombor's compositions are so intuitive and sensitive that none have an overpowering effect on us. There is a flow from one image to the next and the purity of an unattainable childhood, the uplifting beauty and forging power of friendship with all its emotional height and depth, are outlined before the eye.
The use of colours plays an important role. Hues of deep orange, ochre and different shades of red are complemented by Barbara Palvin's bright blue eyes, satin green bra and the toothpaste green of her terry cloth overall. The alternating monochrome and colour photographs render and place chronologically the features of the series, which elaborates on active, past experiences. The use of flash, which sometimes creates an entirely raw sensation, intensifies the emotional effects that the images evoke. The same makes the series playful and free.
The photographs are also made special by certain images suggesting that Tombor takes photos of the most ordinary things - plastic flowers on a windowsill, goal posts on football pitches, a scratching cat in the window, a young man climbing over a fence - yet when we are standing before the images their meaning becomes increasingly complex and sophisticated, and a growing number of metaphorical and symbolic layers reveal themselves.