Lukewarm water I.
The history of Hungarian art after 1945 is comprised of the oeuvres of interrelated generations, groups of artists, and artists who sought to pursue an individual path. The institutions as well as the exhibitions in which they manifested their principles played a key role in their careers.
The exhibition aims to provide a view of the period from three aspects: besides pointing out the simultaneous presence of movements and trends, and presenting exhibitions as part of the historical process, we demonstrate, through representative works, how the Hungarian art of the period was related to contemporaneous European trends.
One of the characteristics of Hungarian art after 1945 is that the various trends and artistic approaches did not replace but followed from one another. A good example of this is abstract art that emerged on the basis of the art of earlier generations, or the post-surrealist styles that followed the avant-garde tradition of experimenting, emerging from local interpretations as counterpoints to official art. The parallel histories can almost fully be traced throughout the past few decades.
The significance of exhibitions as key events of art history is also highlighted at several points of this show. This significance lies in the fact that exhibitions point out such commonalities relating artists that consisted in the closeness of their principles and attitudes rather than in their stylistic sameness or differences. This shows the phenomena or events in a different light, as instead of stylistic similarities, it primarily focuses on conceptual and theoretical links.
Demonstrating the similarities or differences of styles in the artistic practices of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s is especially important because while in the 60s and 70s, the dialogue took place between the avant-garde and the tolerated modernism of Socialism, in the 1980s we can observe the simultaneous existence of a new type of expressive painting inspired by international trends, and of underground practices prevailing among the artists of the young generation.
The title of the exhibition, Shifts, calls attention to the changes in the approaches to art, as well as to the role of the market in re-evaluating art, and the changes in the system of institutions.
The exhibition Shifts – Updated! focuses on recently made, significant acquisitions to the collection. Following a four-stage renewal, the exhibition presents a fresh outlook. Besides well-known masterpieces we highlight new works that make a definitive contribution in historical, genre, or thematic terms from the perspective of the past six decades of Hungarian art; that reflect on the unique Central European context of the Contemporary Collection (and thus of Hungarian art); and that modify, or even re-interpret, the well-known narrative of post-1945 Hungarian art.
Thanks to the gallery’s recent collecting strategy, which has expanded to include various different media, visitors encounter individual periods and tendencies via a broad spectrum that encompasses, among other things, photography, drawings, graphics, installations, and textile art.
In 2022 the exhibition is updated with the works of the following artists:
I. From 20 April 2022
György Kemény, Ilona Keserü, Dóra Maurer
II. From 25 June 2022
Endre Bálint, Ákos Birkás, József Bullás, Ilka Gedő, Tihamér Gyarmathy, József Jakovits, Károly Kelemen, Dezső Korniss, Tamás Lossonczy, Attila Mata, István Mazzag, Ferenc Martyn, Lóránt Méhes, László Mulasics, Lili Ország, László László Révész, Lenke Szilágyi, Menyhért Tóth, Júlia Vajda, Erzsébet Vaszkó, Tibor Vilt, András Wahorn, István ef Zámbó, Magda Zemplényi
III. From 12 October 2022
Imre Bak, Sándor Bortnyik, András Braun, Orshi Drozdik, Róza El-Hassan, Ákos Ezer, Péter Gémes, Gábor Gerhes, Tibor Gyenis, Tibor Hajas, Gusztáv Hámos, Sebestyén Kodolányi, Endre Koronczi, János Kósa, Katalin Ladik, Antal Lakner, Csaba Nemes, Hajnal Németh, Gábor Pintér, Luca Sára Rózsa, Pál Szacsva Y, Tamás Szentjóby, Bálint Szombathy, Endre Tót, Gábor Tóth, Zsolt Veress
Lenke Szilágyi, whose name is mostly associated with portrait photography, is one of Hungary’s foremost photographers. Szilágyi documented the events, iconic personalities (Dixi [János Gémes], Pillangó [Ferenc Deák, aka Butterfly]) and bands (A. E. Bizottság, Európa Kiadó) of contemporary underground life in the 1980s as both friend and participant. Szilágyi captured the atmosphere of the intellectual subculture of the 1980s in all its banality: dilapidated apartment blocks and bars, and the relationships and lifestyles of the young artists of the day. Her documentary approach is characterised by a unique sense of subjectivity and lyricism.
In Consummatum Est, Júlia Vajda turned to Christian iconography to express the trauma of the Second World War, although here, as in several of her other paintings, she departs from art historical conventions. The painting shows the faceless silhouette of Christ’s crucified body lying on a table-like platform. The hanging head and emaciated body evoke the idea of death, while the grinning, snake-like creature depicted at Christ’s head links the image of suffering and self-sacrifice with original sin and Satan. The work is an expression of despair: the crucifixion is not followed here by resurrection and redemption.
Dezső Korniss painted his Dance of the Cricket series in Szentendre in 1949. The horrors of the Second World War he had witnessed had utterly destroyed his earlier artistic world, paving the way for the emergence of absurd figures, terrifying insects and demons. The geometrical containment of the pictorial structures, the precision and clarity of the compositions, the delineation of the motifs with razor-sharp contours, and the strict and orderly arrangement of shapes painted in homogeneous colours conjure up a vision of terror: a period after civilisation’s self-destruction in the war; a post-human world.
The primary theme in Luca Sára Rózsa’s art is the relationship between man and his environment. The two-headed figure in Flood, seated on a throne, suggests exaltation, which is in contrast with the vulnerability of their naked body. This sense of vulnerability is underlined by the threat of the flood. It remains unclear, however, whether the watercourses are the harbingers of an impending disaster or the mementoes of recent flooding. By this lack of clarity, the timing of the scene is called into question. The biblical flood is linked with the current global ecological crisis. Man, as both the cause and victim of this crisis, is confronted with his own finality in relation to the regenerative capacity of nature.