His first solo show at the arts institution Mai Manó House - reflects on a recent event that has affected us all. The images of the series he made during the lockdown reflect on the hard-to-put-your-finger-on uncertainty of a situation we have all but forgotten, in a mode that is in turn metaphorical, abstract and objective, portraying the slow and quiet quarantine days of an imaginary, isolated figure, at a place "written" by the artist. Alongside the series as a whole, the individual pictures offer metaphorical statements that add nuance and detail to the events of the world, creating an opportunity for the viewer to reflect on the lessons of the recent past.
Tombor turned his lens on objects and scenes that invite rich associations, and that have additional meanings rooted in our culture, history and traditions, which multiply the connotations of the images. They are simple yet symbolic things, like water, a row of upended dominos, dentures on a palm, bubbles, a goldfish gaping in a fruit jar, or the allegorical image of a figure lost among the giant roots of a tree. These compositions enter into harmony with the visual solutions that reach back to the aesthetic of the surrealist photography of the avant-garde. They include refractions, cast shadows, reflections and off-focus shots, which are all frequently used in Tombor's art.
Together, the metaphorical images and technical experiments form a response to the period when the pillars of the world's balance were shaken at their foundations. They are symbolic formulations of the isolation, the shifting emphases, the slowing down, the rediscovery of ourselves, the loss of focus, the uncertainty, or the melancholy-all the emotions we experienced during this period.
Light Therapy is the epic story of a protracted lockdown in the 21st century, which speaks about change, the acceptance of powers larger than ourselves or supernatural, collaboration, hope and regeneration.
Zita Sárvári, curator
Light Therapy in five acts
Zoltán Tombor is a quiet Hungarian photographer who is nonetheless much in the limelight. By his own account, photography is for him the only means to define himself and his place in the world. Or rather, his places, because he lives what is at least a double life in photography, attaining a quality in each that is the equal of the other: both in fashion photography and autonomous art.
With Zoltán Tombor, however, the two genres, which are apparently at odds, have intersections, which can rarely be seen in the work of a photographer: the drive for perfection that informs fashion photography can be detected in his other compositions, and the sensitivity that marks his original art is also there in his commercial photography.
Started in the spring of 2020, Light Therapy is Zoltán Tombor's attempt to render the isolation that has been the common lot of billions on planet Earth. Over and beyond its universality, the series tells a personal story, and it is the personal that gains global validity by the agency of his photography.
Light Therapy is again a case of a dual creative attitude: while the method is that of staged photography, the pictures are also determined by the "decisive moment" Cartier-Bresson swore by-Tombor lets chance influence the visual world he creates. Along the way, he deliberately blurs the line between reality and imagination, which instils his images with a timelessness, as well as with a familiarity and universality.
Zoltán Tombor offers for interpretation a catalogue or system of his silences, as it were, the feelings and emotions that have defined his daily life for the past year-and that have become our shared experience. The special value of Light Therapy lies in the fact that not only can the viewer identify with the images, the very line between creator and recipient is also blurred, and either party could continue any part of the series. This way, the elements of the series become shared feelings, shared emotions.
Péter Baki, photographic historian, director of Mai Manó House and the Hungarian Museum of Photography
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