In highly politicised periods the role of art and the situation of artists are defined by vulnerability. This was equally true for the Rákosi, Kádár (and Ceaușescu) eras evoked by Műcsarnok’s five recently opened and closely interconnected exhibitions. Oeuvres once forced into a ’half-shade’ have been lifted into the light again, allowing for an examination of the situation of art in those days, their existential spaces, as well as their art and life strategies with special attention to individual forms of withdrawal and resistance.

The ‘non-existent censorship’ of communist cultural policy created a situation with continuity being one of its key driving force. This continuity cannot be grasped either as rigid opposition, or as the division of the fine arts into ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’, but much rather as strategic games played by the participants of the two spheres with the aim of trying to broaden or narrow down the ‘room for manoeuvre’ available to art and artists. Claiming that in terms of its political and ideological determination the art of the period was bi-polar is oversimplifying the matter and would lead to entire oeuvres being left in the shade. Indeed, the works produced by most of the artists at the time should not and in many cases cannot be forced into the restricting confines of concrete ideological and political categories.

At the same time, it is true that the era’s official art policy polarised the distinction between ‘appreciated’ and ‘unappreciated’ artistic achievements as the opposition between realist and abstract styles.

Despite the continuous control by the state, however, works defying the political dictates were made, so the official art policy did their utmost to eliminate works and artists deemed (politically) undesirable from the public eye, or at least to silence them for good by excluding them from cultural propaganda.

At a time referred to as the ‘period of consolidation’, many artists set upon their own paths that were seemingly neutral but in fact conveyed a moral stance and opened up new creative potentials. Műcsarnok’s current exhibition, titled One-Time, seeks to put these diverging trends back on the map of recent Hungarian art.


The works of János Blaskó are special on account of their intimacy. They are on display in the first room of
the right aisle of the Műcsarnok. The visitor enters this majestic space from the entrance hall to first encounter
the atmosphere of the entire series of exhibitions. The paintings of János Blaskó deal with the motifs and inspirational powers of artistic creation.

To the moon, 1969 – Photo: Műcsarnok Press Release

If an artwork has a reason to be, it is not success, but the discreet gesture made to the artist and his or her close environment. Its essence is the process itself, the experimenting. This view of art has much in common with Oriental art philosophy, which is a world where the master sums up his thoughts in poetry and experiences meditative and profoundly spiritual experiences. That requires silence, solitude and a balanced personality.


Jenő Gadányi’s successful artistic career was broken by the “year of change”, i.e. the Communist takeover of
power in 1948, but even during the years of involuntary silence he created an oeuvre that was just as valuable
and comprehensive as if he had accomplished it in the limelight. The son of József Gadányi and Katalin Vaszary,
he came from a background that fostered a career in art. His maternal uncle, the painter János Vaszary, tutored
him in classical art. From the 1920s he contributed works regularly to the shows of New Society of Fine Artists
and the Association of New Artists.

Self-portrait (with Bottle), 1930 – Photo: Műcsarnok Press Release

After the Second World War, he was one of the founders of the European School. His painting was characterised by an attraction to abstraction, as well as wavering between figurativeness and abstraction, which fundamentally determined his art. He addressed the view by including more and more new styles, and employed Post-Impressionist, Expressionist and Constructivist gestures, as well as organic-romantic ones that depicted the saturation of nature. His colour schemes involved the entire palette, which radiated a vividness, profound depths of the soul and light resolution. His graphic works are gestures of joy, which reflect on minute events of his age.


Miklós Jakobovits (1936–2012), Romanian-born Hungarian painter of Armenian stock, was an outstanding
artist in his native West Transylvania. Born in Cluj and raised in Sfântu Gheorghe, he attended school in Târgu
Mureș and Cluj, following which he became established in Oradea, where he found and inspiring creative and
professional environment, and met his loving wife and creative partner, ceramic artist Márta Jakobovits.

A prolific painter with a substantial oeuvre, he also put great effort into preserving cultural values. One of the key
players on the Transylvanian Hungarian cultural scene, he was active as an artistic organiser, restorer and art
writer. He sought to acquaint art critics in Hungary with much-neglected Transylvanian art and to draw their attention to its values. With a characteristic Transylvanist attitude, he considered artworks in the context of the
community of Transylvanian peoples, whether Armenian, Hungarian, Romanian, Jewish or Saxon minority, and quality was his only priority.

Window II., 1997 – Photo: Műcsarnok Press Release

This exhibition highlights two trends in the oeuvre, represented by some 120 works: the grotesque, reflective of Romania’s dictatorship, which Jakobovits began in the early 1970s, and some of the monochrome panels and ceramic works that he produced throughout his entire life, but mainly from the 1980s onwards.


Gábor Karátson (1935–2015) painter, writer, philosopher, literary translator, arts teacher, passionate environmentalists, a member of the Danube Circle. An individual of considerable stature, his integrity was well known to his friends. His characteristic figure, is the hair tied back with a thin ribbon will be remembered by many; however, his artistic and literary work is only known to a few of his admirers.

Björn Borg’s serve, 1974-75 – Photo: Műcsarnok Press Release

He was a master without pupils, although in many theoretical works he discussed the history, technical solutions, theory and practice of painting (Miért fest az ember? [Why does one paint], 1970; A festés mestersége [The art of painting], 1971; Hármaskép [Triple picture], 1970). The organisers hope that this exhibition will bring into the limelight this versatile, colourful, liberal personality, an artist with integrity and a consistent oeuvre, whom it is never too late to discover.


This exhibition wishes to pay homage to these artists: seven deceased men, whom the powers that be classified
as self-taught artists, and whom the majority of authoritative art historians tended to neglect. Consequently,
they failed to make it to the canon, and their work has largely remained grey area in the history of
contemporary art. We owe a debt to the work of deceased artists, who were not only important in the sixties
and seventies, but stand their ground today, providing crucial information to exhaustively charting the
art scene of the period.

Gyula Bocz: Spiral 2., 1971-73 – Photo: Műcsarnok Press Release

Produced in conjunction with the exhibition is a 52-minute film, in which colleagues, scholars in various disciplines
and public figures talk about their friendship and memories of the seven artists presented at the exhibition.

Featured image: Műcsarnok Press Release

Source: Daily News Hungary PR

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