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László von Dohnányi, Alien Actress, 2024, oil on linen,
79 x 55 inches (200 x 140 cm)

László von Dohnányi: Artificial Radiance 

Exhibition: March 23rd - April 20th, 2024

Wednesday - Saturday 11am - 6pm

800 NW 22nd Street, Miami, FL 33127

This Saturday, Andrew Reed Gallery opens Artificial Radiance, László von Dohnányi’s first solo exhibition in Miami and second in the United States. The paintings in the show Artificial Radiance each have a historic religious painting as their counterpart, serving as points of aesthetic departure. These works utilize light or its absence as narrative tools to signify the divine, exploring how these established visual aids can communicate narratives of otherworldliness and be recycled to explore similar concepts from the domain of technology. This repetition or reproduction of commonplace archetypes, akin to the concept of the ‘meme’ – elements of culture passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means – reflects the pairing of historic religious themes with contemporary technological concepts. As Mark O’Connell wrote in To Be a Machine, there is a belief that scientific progress is supplanting religion as the vector of our deepest cultural desires and delusions, with concepts such as rebirth, eternal life, and creation, traditionally theological, now being reinterpreted through science and, specifically, artificial intelligence (AI).


For instance, the work Alien Actress has Raphael’s Madonna as its historic counterpart, but explores Eliezer Yudkowsky’s metaphorical notion of the ‘Alien Actress’. He posits that within the machine learning AI resides an utterly alien mind, mastering unseen cognitive arts to predict human text. The inner actress is not the outer character. Blending popular culture elements with religious symbolism, the piece juxtaposes traditional pictorial tradition with cutting-edge 3D digital-modelling tools. In the painting, a central female figure is seen wearing a T-shirt with an image of an internet meme based on the popular science fiction movie Men in Black. The human figures in von Dohnányi’s paintings are treated like computer game characters, NPCs, or virtual game avatars. Downloaded from the internet, these 3D-scanned individuals are repositioned and put into context without any agency of their own. Surrounding her are apples that appear to be placed using copy and paste digital image editing software, repeated countless times to overwhelm and cover the scene. The apples, as well as the other still lifes or memento mori in this show, always have a subtle artificiality to them: a plastic-like shine that hints at their synthetic nature, as in the painting Synthetic Reincarnation. The pomegranate, having been reinterpreted by an AI imaging tool, was accidentally generated with multiple stems and appears as if bitten into.


Von Dohnányi explores the process and properties of painting itself by pairing digital and conventional painting techniques. Drawn to vector-based programs, his paintings merge digital and analog methods. Shapes are arrayed in a collage-like and repetitive manner on the canvas, echoing the cut-and-paste aesthetic derived from other image editing programs. His process begins in the digital realm, sourcing content from the internet as well as utilizing architectural modeling software. By eschewing technological printing techniques in favor of manual physical executions, the images are purposefully decelerated. Through this complex process, the digital content is adapted and transformed, imbuing it with the inevitable idiosyncratic traces of the hand. Echoing Jeff Elrod’s concept of ‘Screen Space,’ Laszlo likewise envisions the canvas as an extension of the screen, merging traditional painting with the computer’s virtual space.


In the painting A Neon Light, which takes as its counterpart Giovanni Battista Gaulli’s ceiling fresco at the nave of the Church of the Gesù in Rome, countless vertical black lines cover the entirety of the painting. The repetitive yet irregular placement of the lines evokes notions of a printed aesthetic, while at the same time, when viewed holistically, they remind one of a skyscape or aurora. Disrupting this is a white vector-based drawing, created using basic software; this “finger drawing” exists somewhere between writing and a naïve doodle, interrupting the composition like lightning. By transferring this digital drawing from the virtual space to the haptic permanence of traditional painting, A Neon Light concurrently references the paintings of Elrod as well as capturing a sort of heavenly light.

László von Dohnányi_Artificial Radiance_installation 1_installation photography courtesy o
László von Dohnányi_Artificial Radiance_installation 4_installation photography courtesy o
László von Dohnányi_Artificial Radiance_installation 3_installation photography courtesy o
László von Dohnányi_Artificial Radiance_installation 6_installation photography courtesy o
László von Dohnányi_Artificial Radiance_installation 5_installation photography courtesy o
László von Dohnányi_Artificial Radiance_installation 8_installation photography courtesy o

Installation photography courtesy of Zachary Balber

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