Photographs That Explore A Meticulous World Of Hand-Made Surrealism

Csilla Klenyánszki builds elaborate trompe l’oeil worlds that “play with the borders of nonsense.”

Surrealism likely brings to mind images of melting clocks and apples-as-faces. But before visual artists took to the absurdity of surrealism, the intellectual and political movement actually had roots in spontaneous, free-association poetry. When painters began experimenting, it was initially believed that the medium was too tedious to truly lend itself to surrealist thought. Today, thanks to photo manipulation tools, it’s possible that we’ve returned to the instantaneous nature of surrealism. One click or swipe, and any image can be tweaked or fused with another photo enough to fall into the surrealism bucket.


Which is why it’s curious that for X Marks the Spot, photographer Csilla Klenyánszki hand-built the subjects of her stylized photographs before capturing them on film. The series of trompe l’oeils all begin as physical sets that Klenyánszki says are the most important part of her work. “I try to see it as a game where I build my own world,” she tells Co.Design. “I try to play with the borders of nonsense. Something that looks foolish in the first place can always find its right place at the end.”

Klenyánszki’s photographs ask for long pauses and double takes. They are filled with fantastical images, such as frozen Coca-Cola, minus the glass, or scissors that look as though they’ll cut right through a shadow. “My house and my environment become a playground,” she says. “I like to work with common objects, discover their possibilities, give a new function for them.”

About the author

Margaret Rhodes is a former associate editor for Fast Company magazine.