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Nicolas Eber: The «Sensations» entitled paintings of Hans Mattis Teutsch

The formation of the series of paintings entitled as «Sensations» can be set, according to the literature published, to 1919 to 1920. It appears beyond any doubt that it was preceding the series of « Spiritual Flowers » to which it shows similarities and kinship in several respects. This refers partly to the scake of colours of the paintings concerned and partly to their 29 x 36 cm size, moreover to the structured surface of at least most of the cardboard sheeets applied for them. The main difference between them appears to consist therein, that the compositions of the « Sensations » contrarary to those of the « Spiritual Flowers » do not create a uniform, closed-acting floral-impression and contrary to those do not have a monochrome background going al around, but instead their compositions reach to the edges of the sheets.

The representatives of this paintingsseries were participating with high probability under this title in the 1920’s in various exhibitions in different countries. In the course of the years 1917 to 1924, which can be regarded both from the stylistic and the productive aspects as a peak period, three larger size and some smaller size, however clearly distinguishable series of paintings were created. Those larger size series are in a chronological sequence in 1917-18 the anthropomorphic trees, followed in 1919-21 by the so-called « Sensations » which have been likely exposed in the 1920’s under their title – received from Mattis Teutsch – in different exhibitions and about between 1922-24 the « Spiritual Flowers », which were originally shown as « Compositions ». Their actual and extremely to the point and original title goes back to the dedication of that map, which was given as a present to Hans Mattis Teutsxh’s newborn grandson Waldemar in 1950. The smaller size series remained until present without titles.

The distinct marks, respectively common denominators of the « Sensations » consist therein, that they are abstract oil paintings, in part of approximately 29 x 36 cm size on structured-surface cardboard sheets and partly of up to over 1 meter sizes on canvas, essentially composed in Robert Delaunay’s seven basic colours. Their subjects are difficult to express in words. The common characteristic of their mutually interlacing, each other embracing structures of different free forms consists therein, that they are reaching out to the edges of the sheets.

In the literature published so far, including six volumes of monographic character and numerous exhibition catalogues, a far reaching perplexity and confusion of ideas is prevailing with respect to the notions of « Sensations » and « Spiritual Flowers ». Their apparentlyinexhoustible source is the 1972 published first version of Zoltán Banner’s Mattis Teutsch monography, for which the painters son was the authors principal source of information. By the nature of this matter it is not easy to judge how far this contributed to the very much delayed due international acknowledgement of Mattis Teutsch’s life work and of his importance. Its by all means negative effect is however beyond any doubts and it is obvious. One of the objectives of my present writing is therefore the elimination of this regrettable situation and of its rectification.

According to the literature the below reproduced nearly 30 works are those which may be regarded as part of the painting series « Sensations ». The number of the relevant works created at the time – almost 100 years ago – must have been by all means higher taking in account the hidden or destroyed examples, that is such, which remained unknown.

To my best knowledge nobody has so far represented or shared with me the opinion that the works of the painting series « Sensations » do not merely exist as approximately 29 x 36 cm size oil paintings on cardboard, but also as smaller size versions on cardboard and larger size versions over canvas, i.e. that the versions differ merely in sizes and material, but in stylistic respect they are closely akin. As to the realization of paintings of different size with close similarity down to their details – a repeatedly applied procedure by Mattis Teutsch – the here below reproduced two paintings can serve as evidences.

          C:\Users\miki\Desktop\40..jpg          C:\Users\miki\Desktop\MTJ Szabo 56.jpg

            1. Composition, oil / cardboard 35 x 25                      2. Composition oil / canvas, 127 x 90

It is an interesting, however difficult to answer question, how and under which circumstances the transition from the «Sensations» series to the «Spiritual Flowers» series took place, which were its motives and whether it had also intermediate stages?

An at least partial answer regarding this can be taken from the below reproduced painting which can be dated approximately to 1921 and is shown here further below as figure 3, in which a floral-style central motive is not represented in front of a uniform monochromic background reaching all around to the edges of the sheet, like in the case of the «Spiritual Flowers» series of paintings. (Julia Szabó: Máttis Teutsch János, Corvina, 1983, figure 49)

In case of the references of the here below as «Sensations» represented paintings the letter designation is an indication to the corresponding publication and of its author, the following number to the figure therein, followed by the measures of the works concerned.

B: Banner Zoltán – Mattis Teutsch, Kriterion Verlag, Bukarest, 1974

J: Jurecsko László – Mattis Teutsch János, Kossuth Kiadó, Budapest, 2015

M: Majoros Valéria – Mattis Teutsch, Budapest, 1998

S: Szabó Júlia – Máttis Teutsch, Corvina, Budapest, 1983

C:\Users\miki\Desktop\ScanMTJ Szabo 49.jpg

3. Imaginary flower, approx. 1921, oil / cardboard, 32,5 x 25,2 cm

I. Small size paintings, mostly over cardboard sheets with structured surface

       MTJ Szabo 37      MTJ Szabo 36     MTJ Szabo 41     MTJ Ban 28

      4.S /37 – 33 x 29,5 cm         5. S/36 – 34 x 30 cm      6. S/41 – 36 x 29 cm     7. B/28 – 35,5 x 29 cm

MTJBan 40   MTJ Jur 24   MTJ. Jur 25    MTJ. Jur 27

  8. B/40 – 35 x 25 cm            9. J/24 – 36 x 28 cm             10. J/25 – 35 x 29 cm         11. J/27 – 36 x 29 cm

         MTJ szabo 46 jpg      MTJ Maj117        37.

            12. B/27 – 20 x 20 cm               13. M/page 117 – 27 x 35 cm                 14. B/26 – 29 x 36 cm

          MTJ Maj 119             MTJ Jur 30             MTJ Maj 121

           15. M/page 119 – 30 x 29 cm               16. J/30 – 36 x 29 cm              17. M/page 121 – 30 x 38 cm

                     MTJ Jur 28                              MTJ Banner 27

                          18. J/28 – 29 x 39 cm                                                    19. B/38 – 25 x 34,5 cm

                           MTJ Ban 23          MTJ Ban 15             MTJ Ban 34

                        20. B/23 – 25 x 34 cm                    21. B/15 – 29 x 36 cm                 22. B/34 – 28,5 x 36 cm

                                                II. Larger size works, painted on canvas

                      MTJ Jur 29                              MTJ Banner 33

                      23. J/29 – 79,5 x 69,5 cm                                          24. B/33 – 89 x 120 cm

C:\Users\miki\Desktop\MTJ Ban 45.jpg

25. B/45 – 120 x 90 cm


C:\Users\miki\Desktop\MTJ Szabo 35. jpg.jpg

26. S/35 – 90 x 80 cm

In the sense of a conclusion the strong symbolised human figures, discoverable by careful observation in numerous examples of the « Sensations » paintings appear also to merit mention. This is the case in the above figures number 7, 11, 12, 14, 18, 19, 22, 25 and 26. Their so to say common characteristic consists in that only the upper parts of the bodies, heads and arms are depicted and in a substantial part of them – in figures 7, 12, 18, 22 and 26 – pairs are figuring, which – by means of some sign, mostly raised arm – are jointly communicating. Owing to the lack of a better explanation, mainly from the painter’s side, we are forced to guessing regarding Mattis Teutsch’s intention what to express thereby, provided that this had any conscious roots at all. As far as I am concerned the most likely explanation is that the intent of Mattis Teutsch was the representation or symbolisation of the close and organic correlation between mankind and its environment.

The three large each other following, however fundamentally differing, series of paintings created between 1917 and 1924: the «Anthropomorphic Trees», the «Sensations» and the «Spiritual Flowers» may be justifiably regarded in my sight as the organically joint stages of a spiritual and artistic process or development. How and why ?

The three series of paintings are in several respects so much differing from each other that their not initiated and neutral spectator could hold them logically and justifiably to the works of three different artists. Where does the missing link of the chain hide, which could explain and make understandable this procedure? There has to exist after all an explanation going beyond the identity of their creator!

Where does the common denominator hide, which goes beyond the common coloristic structure oft he paintings concerned? The anthropomorphic trees can be well identified as trees in spite of their stylistic representation. In the case of the « Sensations » only the partially appearing schematic human figures can be identified with something really existing, In the case of the « Spiritual Flowers » there is nothing remaining which could be associated with something really existing, they are entirely the products of phantasy. This means that the three series of paintings in question can also be regarded as the stages of an abstraction process, which in the case of Mattis Teutsch’s painting activity, obviously due to its lacking further augmentation possibility, became finally characterised by a return to concrete subjects. The logical question emerging in this context whether this can rather be regarded as the result of a conscious or of an instinctive process, could in all likelihood not be clearly answered even by Mattis Teutsch himself. The truth hiding itself probably somewhere between these two extremes and from the point of view of the result is lacking of relevance.

Nicolas Eber / ebnic@sunrise.ch


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