Matúš Lányi is a star among the emerging Eastern European artists of the post-Berlin Wall generation. Defying a simple classification, he is both, a daring modernist in his subject and attitude as well as a traditionalist with superb drafting skills- an inheritor of Andy Warhol's esthetic values, audaciousness and faith.
Devotional and sacral objects served as the main inspiration for Lányi’s IHS (Iesus Hominum Salvator) series oils, including Bikini, Crucify Me, and the Kiss presented at this year’s Scope Miami Beach. Faithful to the objects’ artistry, Lányi uses his impeccable skills replicating their ornamental details and embellishments to create new banal every day objects of purely profane function. The objective is not to deprive original objects of their spiritual function, but to illustrate the way the contemporary consumer assigns spiritual prominence to such common objects and worships them.
In his work, Lányi draws on the same strong Slovak spiritual and iconographic tradition that impacted Andy Warhol -whose religious parents immigrated from the region -recall Warhol’s Gold Marilyn and over 100 “Last Supper” paintings in his estate. (See Dillenberg, Jane D, The Religious Art of Andy Warhol, 1998; )
The size of Lányi’s oils (Bikini tondos are 67 inches in diameter, his Car is 5.2 ft. x 15 ft., Kiss 126 x 75 inch) as well as their format (tondo was traditionally reserved to the depiction of Holy Family and Madonna with Child) also play a significant role conveying, on the one hand, these objects’ new spiritual significance, on the other, serving as new consumer brands and their advertisement.
His Car is set up at this fair to replicate a triptych, a three piece altar painting that would traditionally be a focal point in front of which all the significant spiritual work takes performed.
These modern sacral motifs that find their origin in liturgical challises, monstrances or garments symbolize strong and exclusive emotional and spiritual “support” or direct spiritual connection with the consumer: wearer of the undergarments or the owner of the car. At the same time they also reflect specific iconographic attributes and respect the time and the story line of iconographic presentation.
Thus, the IHS cycle emphasizes and juxtaposes spiritual and mundane. It contrasts temporality and consumption, aesthetics of brands with iconographic essence of spiritual themes, thus directing our attention to concepts worthy of our contemplation, the biggest of which is the subject of life after death.
The main topic Matúš Lányi develops in his artworks, consisting mainly of paintings and videos, is Christian iconography. He is probably the only Slovak and possibly the only Central European artist of the young generation who focuses on this topic as part of his artistic program. He develops Christian topics that are the starting point of European art with a certain detachment and with the help of understandable and contemporary visual language. He shifts the timeless ideas into new contexts and thus reflects on problems of the contemporary world.
It could seem that Lányi's works incorporate irony and sarcasm, criticism of religion or the Catholic Church. However, as a believer, Lányi does not want to shock in terms of a cheap effect. On the contrary, he brings a different perspective and his works offer spectators an opportunity to ponder and meditate.
Matúš Lányi (born 1981 in Spišske Podhradie, Slovak Republic) is a graduate of the Department of Fine Arts and New Media at the Technical University in Kosice, Studio of graphics and alternative media. He worked under academic advisers Rudolf Sikora and Zbyňek Prokop (2000-2007). Lányi’s works are in public collections of the Bratislava City Gallery, Nitrianska Gallery, Gallery of Central Slovakia in Banska Bystrica, and Slovak National Museum in Levoca as well as private collections in Europe and the United States. In 2014 Lányi was invited to be a resident artist at the Red Gallery in London. He lives and works in Bratislava and Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia.