What would it be like to be put in the shoes of the great figures of bygone centuries and to paint a self-portrait as Rembrandt himself or to draw a laser sword as Athos, Porthos or Aramis? What would it be like to pop into a shopping centre of the future? Naomi Devil knows. Who can decide whether she is travelling in time or time itself is shifting, and whether Naomi is haunted by apparitions of the past, or rambling amidst visions of the future? This is a riddle similar to the aporia of Chuang Tzu, who awoke from his sleep and could not decide whether he had dreamed of being a butterfly or the butterfly was then dreaming of being him.
Everything seems to be possible in the 21st century. There is no need for psychoactive drugs because technique takes you anywhere. While Alice reached into the realm of miracles through a mirror, Naomi was sucked into the virtual worlds of the online game Second Life, where her avatar took adventures among fantastic 3D buildings she had built herself.
Naomi Devil is a contemporary painter par excellence. She devours everything offered by our digital era. Both the aesthetics of Baroque masters and the visual worlds of science-fiction appear on her menu. As the invention of the daguerreotype started a revolution in the nineteenth century, likewise the visual arts of our times have been transformed by the computer and the World Wide Web. Not only are perspectives changing, but technique as well, which is not surprising. Already in the Middle Ages, countless ingenious devices were used to assist in drawing. Neither Vermeer in the 17th century nor Canaletto a few decades later was reluctant to use the camera obscura. Painters have always appropriated the innovations of their eras. Naomi Devil also boldly takes advantage of Photoshop, but the created image serves only as a starting point to her paintings. Skills in painting and knowledge of various techniques are indispensable, but she has mastered both. This is revealed by her several non-photo-based works.
Naomi Devil’s works are characterized by a very intense visual effect achieved both through composition and the use of colour. It is all the same whether she is painting a psychedelic dream lit by the exaggerated neon colours of night-time bars and advertisements, or looking for the glimmering effect of Rembrandt’s nearly monochrome golden-brown palette; whether she is touching on reminiscences of surrealism and pop-art, or evoking Schiele’s line-drawings with charcoal and oil on a raw canvas.
Resembling Baroque and Mannerist paintings, her compositions are profusely dense — a sumptuous display of sensuous delight. Her futuristic paintings are similar: only the choices of figures, clothes, and objects are different.
Members of a consumer society are constantly exposed to a barrage of visual stimuli. Whether at home or on the streets, citizens of a metropolis live their daily lives surrounded by relentlessly flashing lights. The people, hungry for information, are not only able but indeed forced to use several newer and newer electronic devices at the same time. They divide their attention between television sets, laptops and smartphones. The web simultaneously bombards them with its messages. These kinds of pulsating dynamics characterize Naomi Devil's paintings, even those which are melancholic or less intense. At first sight, the mind is not able to encompass all the details. The eyes need some time to scan the picture, because the devil hides in the details — in the best sense.
written by Zoltán Rokenbauer, curator of the Kunsthalle Budapest