In a realm where art, makeup, and social criticism seamlessly intertwine, Eszter Magyar emerges as a provocative force, challenging societal norms and redefining the female gaze through both her Instagram page, @makeupbrutalism, and through her other artistic pursuits. As an artist navigating an identity in flux, Magyar's purpose-driven visual project radiates a radical fusion of human aesthetics and social commentary.
With her ongoing series, Skinscapes, she delves into the intricate connection between our bodies, souls, and the world around us, capturing the lingering imprints that shape our existence. Through her lens, she unravels the dichotomy of beauty standards, fearlessly navigating the delicate balance between makeup as an art form and the pressures imposed on women by society. As we delve into the intricate facets of her artistic journey, Magyar's unfiltered authenticity and unwavering dedication to challenging societal conventions become increasingly evident.
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First off would you mind introducing yourself and your work to anyone who may be unfamiliar?
I am Eszter Magyar, someone in the middle of an identity crisis - 10 years ago I was a makeup artist, 3 years ago a content creator, now I am an art director and hopefully in 10 years I will be a full-time artist. I am all of these above and none of these at the same time, a weird unorthodox mixture, confusing for everyone (even for myself).
Your work is described as a purpose-driven visual project that mixes social criticism with human aesthetics to radicalise the female gaze. How do you believe art and visual representation can challenge societal norms and provoke thought?
We are soo spoon-fed with ideas and standards, we are so overwhelmed visually, this chaos is such a natural state of mind for everyone that we forgot that there are other ways. But to discover those we need silence, cheesy as it sounds, we need silence to hear our own voices. This is what I did - and what happened? People talk about provocation. Because what I like is the irregular. I am a 35 year old woman who wants to choose for herself what she finds aesthetically pleasing or just simply important - and it is seen as provocation. This is the world we live in right now.
In your ongoing series, Skinscapes, you explore the idea that everything leaves a mark on us, whether noticed or not. Can you discuss the inspiration behind this series and how it reflects the relationship between our bodies, souls, and the world around us?
I'm in love with photography and I'm in love with literature - it was quite clear for me that these two will collide one day: for me Skinscapes are the meeting point: visual poems. Sometimes the worlds are physically there, sometimes  it's just a sentence in my head ‘I am so soft even your breath leaves a mark on me’ which leads me to photograph patterns I find on my own skin.
In an ideal world I would have the resources to create multidisciplinary art: a mixture of literature and installations. Skinscapes are kind of a first step toward this.
But honestly this all sounds way more complicated and planned as [than] it is. I know everyone wants to hear these big explanations but the reality is - I have no intentions with most of my projects I just love to manifest ideas. I read a sentence, my brain makes a connection and gets my phone and in the next second it's done.
You have mentioned that your work aims to question the importance of beauty standards in today's society. How do you navigate the balance between makeup as an art form and the societal pressures placed on women regarding their appearance?
I do not navigate at all - I have no intention to stay in line or relevant, my method is to listen to my gut and do what is interesting for me. I never consider anything, I dare to make mistakes. It is easy, because I'm no-one, I have nothing to lose, and this is the biggest freedom anyone can have.
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What Machines Dream Of is a collaboration between you and Tamás Olajos, exploring a world where machines decide new beauty trends. Can you elaborate on the concept and your thoughts on the potential dystopian or utopian implications of such a scenario?
If you think about a trend in general, it's the most human phenomenon. This was the core idea, to remove the human and see what’s left. When the limitations are not there. It was interesting back then, when deep learning was not so popular, NFTs weren’t a thing. To see what a machine dreams of, without any human intention. But with all the AI hysteria going on right now it all lost its value.
By the way if we are talking about worst case scenarios, we are already living in my beauty dystopia - I don’t think it could get way worse as it is now. The self-esteem crisis is real, painted faces are considered more normal than [an] unpainted one and meanwhile the hypocrisy - its just unreal.
Your series Overuse highlights the trend of excessive product use in beauty routines, presenting it as a parody. What message or critique are you aiming to convey through this exaggerated portrayal?
Overuse was such a fun project to piss people off. Not because I wanted to, but because people are so easily offended nowadays. It was the time when the whole Kim Kardashian aesthetic was such a huge hit, baking, contouring, basically drag makeup for everyday becoming a thing, million step makeup and skincare routines, it made absolutely no sense whatsoever. It was so exaggerated - I just pushed it a step further. I just ripped the method out of its context and created a parody - it was hilarious. I loved the hysteria around it.
Your work often evokes strong emotional responses, as seen in Trigger Warning. Can you discuss the role of discomfort and provocation in art and how it can foster meaningful dialogue or introspection?
That's the thing - how is a scar provocation ? Shouldn’t we think about people who are wearing those scars? Shouldn’t we reassure them that there is nothing wrong with having a scar? Because they cannot choose not to have those while people on the Internet can decide to close up Instagram and not cry about seeing something real. And I’m not talking about fresh wounds, blood, gore and horror.
People told me to put trigger warnings on my veins, on my tongue, on my belly button… I don’t think it should be my problem that some people out there are not prepared to - I don't know - to see  anything human? It's not my responsibility to keep anyone safe. This is what Trigger Warning was all about - to show the level of unbearable sensitivity in the online space.
Could you share a personal experience or an influential moment that inspired you to pursue the intersection of art, makeup, and social criticism in your work?
I worked as an editorial makeup artist for years before makeupbrutalism became a success story. I remember one day, when one of the editors came to set and gave me the simple brief ‘just make her beautiful’ . Our model was around 15 and it made me so comfortable. Disgusted even. But it made me question, what beauty is or who has the right to decide what beautiful should mean - that was the base. From that point I just wanted to understand what beauty means to me - everything else came organically.
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You often create conceptual content for beauty brands. How do you approach these collaborations, and what unique perspective or value do you bring to the beauty industry through your work?
The reality is I'm really bad at mixing roles. I can be a good makeup artist who works for a client or a good creator who works for herself, but I cannot do both at the same time. If I don't have 100% freedom it will not work properly - or at least I will feel it did not work out. That's why for example I never did makeupbrutalism in collaboration with a photographer, because if I let someone else in- that's compromising my vision and when that's happening - that's not makeupbrutalism anymore. I tried to do content for brands, had some amazing collaborations but I don't think I will do these too often in the future anymore. Not to mention I believe content creation was a covid reality and it will be out of style very soon. Collaborations are different, I have some ideas in my head, but not with beauty brands.
As an artist, what role do you believe beauty and aesthetics play in shaping our understanding of the world and ourselves?
I would challenge the statement of me being an artist. I think if you would ask 10 galleries or curators what they think, is makeupbrutalism art, 99% would say a definite no. And sadly I’m a realistic person who knows art is an industry where you have to be validated by the system itself, which I am not.  That’s why it is so exciting to find the few exceptions who believe in me and the importance of what I do.
Your work seems to explore the intersection of vulnerability and strength. Can you share your thoughts on the power of vulnerability as a means of artistic expression and connection with your audience?
I am Eastern European. This means I do not know how to be polite, have strong opinions, get easily carried away by my own feelings and overshare most of the time. Even if I’m in a bad or good mood.
And this is what you see as exploring the intersection of vulnerability and strength. It is just who I am: I allow myself to experience everything I feel and think, online as well as off-line.
In a society that often objectifies women's bodies, how do you reclaim and redefine the female gaze through your work? What impact do you hope to have on the perception and representation of women in art and media?
Women are judged, reviewed and reinvented by men all the time. Even women judge other women through the male gaze and we don't even realise it. This is how society conditioned us - this is considered normal, but frankly, I do not do normal and predicable - I’m a big fan of irregular.
What I did instead: I just gave myself the time and space to understand where my needs and preferences are coming from. I experimented a lot with visuals, played around and monitored and analysed my own reaction. Because at the end of the day I want to define myself. And I want to have all the right to define myself as a woman and as a human.
To finish, is there a particular direction you see your work going in? Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
There will be two group exhibitions I will take part in, one here in London and the other one in Vienna. If I can be honest, this is what makes me the happiest and proudest. I was crying like a baby when I received those emails. It is unprofessional ? Probably. Do I care? Not in the slightest. Creating installations and conceptual pieces are the best part of makeupbrutalism - I hope I will have more opportunities in the future to do so.
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