Gyula Pauer : The First PSEUDO Manifesto (1970)

PSEUDO – exhibition by Gyula Pauer

The English equivalents for the expression PSEUDO are: false, deceptive, unreal, and seemingly real. In the field of sculpture, the term has been used in connection with the works made by Gyula Pauer in 1970. It refers to one of the striking features of sculpture, and therefore one of the new aspects of sculpting. The PSEUDO sculpture does not seem to be what its genuine form actually is. The PSEUDO sculpture is not about the medium of sculpture itself, but rather the circumstances of the medium of sculpture.

One of the historical antecedents of PSEUDO sculpture is MINIMAL ART. MINIMAL sculpture is a kind of plastic art that has been reduced to a few simple geometric forms, the shocking effect of which lies in their pure, almost puritanical appearance and their deliberate avoidance of ornament and sentimentality. Its other antecedent was the illusionist technique of OP ART. The pure form in OP ART is dissolved in the endless possibilities of motion. However, OP ART has remained a two-dimensional art of decorative illusionism.

PSEUDO misleadingly creates the impression of the surface of another sculpture over the puritan forms of MINIMAL sculpture, giving the image of two sculptures simultaneously. This effect is achieved by projecting the picture of a more complex object onto the surface of simple geometrical forms. This is done by means of a photographic process. On the surface of the sculpture there appears the surface of another sculpture. The PSEUDO sculpture thus portrays reality and illusion, the material and the immaterial, on the same object at the same time. The exact forms are discernible, but perception is always hampered by the illusionist image. Essentially, PSEUDO includes the following questions:

1. The existence of sculpture.

2. The absence of sculpture.

3. The PSEUDO-like attitude, the manipulated nature of the object.

These themes move beyond the material space of sculpture and demand functional interpretation. We consider the following interpretation correct:

The PSEUDO quality depicts the manipulated nature of the sculpture as a work of plastic art. This manipulated nature may characterize the existence of art in general. The manipulated nature of the PSEUDO sculpture, both in its form and in its technique, is only a symbol of the existential manipulated nature of plastic art (and the arts in general).

In the last third of the twentieth century, modern art entered into the maelstrom of social manipulation by following the path of consumer goods. Of course, PSEUDO cannot tell us about the manipulated nature of the price, commerce, advertising strategies, and functions of art objects, because PSEUDO sculpture is not a historical treatise or sociological essay, nor is it an illustrated popular lecture. The PSEUDO sculpture is a sculpture representing itself as a manipulated sculpture, thus proving the existence of the state of manipulation. PSEUDO reveals itself as a false image, or at least as a complex object that also gives a false image.

But PSEUDO does not commit itself merely to the act of exposure. PSEUDO sculpture carefully sets new surfaces on the surfaces of simple and concrete objects, and these visual elements, settling gently on the surface of the object, present the forms from a new perspective. Consequently PSEUDO not only negates manipulated existence, but affirms it as well, exposing its complexity and structural richness. Finally, PSEUDO cannot be interpreted as an unambiguous stance. With the dialectical unity of affirmation and negation it gestures towards the world beyond it, but it also reverts into itself.

PSEUDO remains neither philosophy nor history, but what it was at the very moment of its birth—sculpture. PSEUDO will exist as long as appearance is a real factor, and vice versa.

Source: Artpool Art Research Center

Törvénytelen avantgárd. Galántai György balatonboglári kápolnaműterme 1970–1973 [Illegal Avant-garde, the Balatonboglár Chapel Studio of György Galántai 1970–1973], eds. Júlia Klaniczay and Edit Sasvári  (Artpool–Balassi, Budapest, 2003): 126-135.

Source of English translation: Subversive Practices. Art under Conditions of Political Repression. (Hatje Cantz, 2010)

Published in German: Klaus Groh: Aktuelle Kunst in Osteuropa. DuMont, Köln, 1972.; in English: Hungarian Schmuck (Schmuck Hungary), March/April 1973.