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Paintings from the film Bubb le Bath, Reworked between 1980 and 1983
Kovásznai's paintings made for his film Bubble Bath in 1979 constitute a unique group in his oeuvre: these are exciting and mysterious works, abounding with bizarre pictorial details and captivating painterly qualities. Owing to the subsequent alterations, these pictures afford an insight into the dramatic atmosphere of Kovásznai's final stage of life, especially in comparison to their original state preserved in the film. The enthusiastic and dynamic atmosphere prevalent in the earlier filmmaking process has given way to the dark clouds of facing death.
Four of the paintings that appear in Bubble Bath were not repainted; they have strong connections to certain details of the film's narrative. One of them is Female and Male Portraits against a Grey Background, which symbolises the relationship of the main characters, abstracted from space and time, as they imagine themselves at old age. In the second painting, Anni and Zsolt are depicted flying above the roofs of houses. In the third piece, Man and Woman in an Eclectic Interior, the male protagonist and his would-be wife are depicted in an eclectic interior. The fourth painting, Grey Figure in Bathtub, is related to an emblematic scene from Bubble Bath, in which the main male character hides from his fiancée in his girlfriend's bathroom, wearing the woman's scuba gear.
The urge to rework certain oil-on-canvases originally made for Bubble Bath is apparently related to his altered attitude in the wake of the film's failure and the diagnosis of his fatal illness in the meantime. This is most apparent in Scene and a Figure with a Raised Forefinger. The painting originally belonged to a dialogue in the film, between Zsolt Mohai, dressed in a diving suit, and Anni. In Figures against a Brown Background, only the face of the original film's male protagonist can be recognised. In Figures against a Red Background only the figure of a little girl in the lower right corner calls to mind a detail of a painting from Bubble Bath. In Mother with Child as compared to the original picture included in Bubble Bath, only the figure of the mother nursing her child is recognisable here, but her figure has also been repainted, to dissolve into an all-encompassing pink veil of paint. Cemetery, the last painting in the series, albeit smaller than the previous pictures, is the most dramatic and saturated from among all the pieces in terms of its theme and symbols. Kovásznai painted it during the few months prior to his death; thus, one can understand why a sense of impending storm imbues the painting: the image is comprised of irregular, tormented gestures.