Róbert Batykó
The Paint Scraping Machine

Even in the relatively early stages of my artistic practice, it was atypical of me to apply paint traditionally, placing brush marks on to the surface of the canvas. Since 2005, the radical reduction of form became a quintessential attribute of my paintings displaying the logos of different well-known companies and other diverse emblems. I wanted to depict the consumer society-related motifs, suggesting a kind of alienation even in the mode of its depiction, apart from evoking a sense of reproducibility in the viewer. At the same time, I was driven by an inner need to work with a method deviating from the common tactics deployed in the field of painterly expression.


The surfaces formed by the paint scraping machine manifest in a film-like layer, leaving the resulting images without a pronounced plasticity. In my process, I don’t rely on layers of underpainting, instead, I start with devising a specific, constructed composition in the top section of the canvas, consisting of thickly applied fields of colour separated by sharp outlines. I scrape off this image using a blade, leaving the original composition visible, thinning the material, letting the structure of the canvas reappear, making the mechanism of scraping evident. This way, the final image reveals the mechanism of its formation, making the painterly process easy to follow and interpret for the viewer. My movements are not characterized by sudden and instinctive confrontations with the work in progress, but by a consciously pre-determined set of actions in which directed elements of chance disassemble the static nature of the geometrically constructed compositions. My work could be interpreted thus as a kind of “process-based meta-painting practice”. In addition to eliminating the explicit painterly gestures, I also wipe out the tangible, body-like quality of the medium, which becomes “hidden” in the pores of the fabric. These surfaces reflect on ethereal phenomena such as the visuality of digital displays or the immateriality of printed surfaces. The pulsations, the rippling and wave-like repetitions and the fade-outs coded into these ghost images reference the continuous circulation of imagery, more precisely the ongoing discourse on image inflation.


I increasingly rely on a procedure I have dubbed “shaped ghost image”, which I believe is a novelty within the comparable realm of “squeegee” painting. The ghost images are only allowed to form within a strictly delineated arena, surrounded by monochrome fields of colour. This method highlights and plasticizes the expressive gestures because of the given motif’s forceful contrast with the adjacent, homogeneous surfaces. What makes this method unique is the fact, that the entire scope of the image is established by one definitive scraping motion. With the realisation of the “shaped ghost image”, the elements of gestural painting and the expanses of Color field painting materialise simultaneously, with no dissonance between the co-appearance of two opposing pictorial systems. This is realisable as the entire image is processed by one single blade that simultaneously scrapes off and pushes the material in front of it, depending on whether the given area is painted or left blank.


I could ultimately characterize my artistic practice as a melting pot, in which new combinations surface from the medley of various visual effects. Apart from the painting styles and the ideologies of the 20th century, one of the basic sources of these compounds is the time we live in and the contemporary visual culture that surrounds us, which could be described as an unprecedented diversity within the framework of high art, pop art and the realm of the virtual sphere. Recently I have become more and more determined to conserve these symbolic sights of interest in the timeless materiality of the medium of painting. I could allude here to the command phrase “save image as”, which is one of the functions of certain computer programs. My goal is precisely the preservation of these instances from the seemingly endless stream of visual influences we find ourselves confronted with. The emphasis, however, must be on the act of “artistic preservation”. During this process, the essence of complex human emotions and thoughts can be formed through the mechanisms of distancing and distillation. It is not the almost automatic evaluation of a certain hand-made quality, but the assessment of the specific attributes of the complex performance of the act “saving”, into which the possibility of cognitive and formal abstraction is encoded.