Pages of Márta Baranyai

Pages of Márta Baranyai

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The technique


The tradition of the use of cork dates back to centuries in the past. Cork oak (Quercus suber) is a special kind of tree, native on certain territories of the Mediterranean. Its bark is peeled off every ninth year: the material gained this way is what we call cork. Separation of the bark from the tree does not do any harm to the tree itself; it can live as long as 180-200 years.

It is used for different purposes. The most spectacular application, using it as wallboard, has been in practice for at least 200 years. In Hungary, too, is utilized this many sided material from a long time in numberless forms.

New technique - paintings

I met this superb material in my work - and fell in love with it. Since I like trying out new things I borrowed this material from the world of industry and households and made use of it in the field of fine arts - as carriering surface - this is a novel idea.

Porous fabric of the cork produces rustic surfaces, interesting tones and colours. In some of my paintings I used it for getting stone-like surfaces and utilised it in achieving effects of cave paintings, pictographs, stone fragments.

Hungary's territory is rich in volcanic and other rocks. In our mother country, too, were excavated stone findings or iginating from archaic cultures. Numerous material relics, depicting motives, figures, came to light during excavations, that remind us to our past and refer to the life of our ancestors.

My interest for the mementoes of these mysterious, in olden times vanished ages has me encouraged to the painting of my pictures, creating my series called "Sentinels of Ancient Cultures" This eras were the cradles of the treasures of our present life and culture. To me, stone is not a cold, lifeless material! It contains many secrets and worked on by human hands, it is the bearer of nature and the knowledge of ancient civilizations.

My paintings represent an interesting contradiction: they convey to the viewer the beauty, the communicativeness and plasticity of stones, the play of light and shade, but without their weight, their cold and hard qualities. Just on the contrary: Painted on a light, warm, soft touching material, the "stone figures" come almost to life.

The colours of the paintings on cork are not vivid or forceful. Their restraint harmonizes with the natural colour of the cork, with the natural canvas frame, the themes and atmosphere of the pictures. This is why the use of warm reddish brown and ochre are typical and - with the cooler shades - come close to the colours of the earth, moss green and greys, as can be seen on my pictures about horses.

My latest series called "Subconscious" is the creation of a hand freed from the control of the mind, outcropping the unconscious.

It has been proved that cork is impeccable from the point of view of ecology and health; it is easy to use and perfectly fulfils the demands of our age. This is due to its unusual cell structure. Its most important properties:

  • it is dust repellent, thus it is antiallergenic, (in contrast to traditional, canvas based paintings)
  • it has no natural pest
  • it is difficult to set alight but when it burns it does not give off toxic gases
  • it is water repellent and does not undergo fungal decay or turn mouldy
  • it keeps its shape and size and has a very long lifespan.

My oil paintings on cork - as a result of the amalgamation of two prime materials - are extremely durable and besides the beauty of their rustic surface, they improve the health of the environment!

For these reasons I recommend it to your kind attention.

This special new idea was awarded a GENIUS prize on the GENIUS EUROPE inventions exhibition in Budapest in 2004.

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