Hungarian comtemporary art
Category: Opinion

Hungarian comtemporary art


Online art platform G.ART Gallery presents contemporary art from 23 Eastern European countries. G.ART’s working principles include an individual approach to artists, communication with art process manager and immersion into the realities of the art market in each of the countries represented. Recently the G.ART Gallery team went on an art tour to Eastern European countries: to meet the artists in person, interview them, visit art fairs and exhibitions and learn more about the art scene in these countries. The next stop on the exciting journey is Hungary.

G.ART met Budapest with contrasts in weather, architecture and rhythms. The capital of Hungary is dynamic, industrial and crowded. The city is renovated and decorated with modern buildings and majestic old palaces, just like hundreds of years ago, admiring their reflection in the Danube River…


Hungarian art: a bit of history 

Hungary is a country with a rich artistic tradition, firmly rooted in the logic of the development of European art. In the 19th century, during the flowering of the Hungarian national consciousness and culture, such major masters of painting as Viktor Madarász, Mihály Munkácsy and Pál Szinyei Merse (founder of plein air impressionism) worked.

Hungarian modernism at the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century is original, in spite of close links to European, French and German modernism. It paid tribute to Cubism, Fauvism, Expressionism and other currents, and was extremely fruitful. In the second half of the twentieth century, the European School art group (Endre Bálint) was very influential. (Endre Bálint, Barcsay Jenő, Anna Margit and others), whose members created progressive art in spite of the totalitarian prohibitions.

The creative impulse given by the best masters of the second half of the century, above all nonconformists (abstractionists, surrealists, conceptualists, etc.), also affects modernity, and performance art, which emerged in the Hungarian neo-avant-garde as a form of political protest, has become part of contemporary art.


Contemporary art in Hungary: making an appointment

Where can you find out about Hungarian contemporary art?  The renowned Art Market Budapest presents hundreds of Hungarian and international galleries every autumn. OFF-Biennale gathers independent institutions and its mission is to introduce the public to provincial galleries. The first private museum, Q Contemporary presents the art of Central and Eastern Europe. 

The easiest place to make an art encounter is in Budapest, on Bartók Béla. There are several excellent galleries such as Godot, K.A.S., Zsófi Faur, Három Hét and others. Of course, the contemporary art scene is not confined to just one street – check the listings and see exhibitions in other galleries in the top ten: Várfok (which was one of the first to deal with contemporary art), Stúdió Galéria (FKSE), which presents the youngest art in Hungary, Kisterem, Viltin (worth coming here for painting and drawing), Inda (works in a wide range of media and styles).


Twenty-first century crises: in search of a way out

The G.ART Gallery team went to Pintér Galéria to meet the art manager Eva Szillery and view the Kiút / Exit group exhibition, featuring 24 contemporary artists. Kiút was created as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. After the quarantine was declared, Eva proposed the idea of opening the exhibitions outdoors. Later, they took turns between street and gallery exhibitions, attracting more and more young artists. The Kiút project, reflecting on the global crisis (which, as it turned out, was not going to be limited to a pandemic), was an important experience for contemporary Hungarian art.   

painting by Agnes Zaszkaliczky

How do Hungarian artists participating in the project deal with the challenges of the 21st century and what “solutions” do they offer? Attila Kondor leads the viewer into strange visionary landscapes, deserted Renaissance palaces and parks. In Barakonyi Zsombor’s paintings, on the other hand, there are too many people, traffic, high-rise buildings, and this joyful urban bustle, as it turned out in the pandemic, is happiness. Fehér László’s work is a monochrome, often black and white strange world where man seems lonely but still proud and independent.

These artists are well known outside Hungary, as is another exhibitor, Incze Mózes, whom G.ART met and interviewed. His surrealistic paintings deconstruct the world, tearing it into fragments, random parts, visualising the fragmentation of the consciousness of modern man, who finds it so difficult to create a coherent picture of reality.

Although Hungarian collectors prefer the time-honoured classics – as Eva Szillery pointed out – contemporary art occupies more and more space in public and private collections. Hungarian artists combine successfully their national specificities, classical traditions, the experience of the 20th century (including the ability to survive under pressure) and the achievements of older masters with global trends.

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