Socialist Realism Auctioned | EXITS – A Show by Attila Szűcs | Words Falling Upon Us – A Show by Lajos Csontó | History – Martin Piaček and Ilona Németh | PSEUDO 40 PAUER 70 – A Show Marking Two Anniversaries
Gábor Rieder: Socialist Realism Auctioned
The new Government has cleverly swept the last Communist art relics out of the cellars of its ministerial storage rooms and into the cellar showrooms of Pintér Antique – all to be auctioned for charity purposes. This PR move must be said to be smart, the purposes noble, arousing as they have done the attention of even international wire-agencies, but the material is rather thin. At least a thousand times more pieces of official decoration must have piled up in Hungarian government ministries from 1950 through 1990, i.e. most of the stuff must have broken to pieces or moved out of those humid basement storerooms in an unknown fashion.
The greater part of the stuff shown at Pintér Antique comes from the uniform stock of the Art Fund’s regular purchases of tasteless products by second-rate, epigonic artists. No politics but lots of still-lives of flowers, ploughing peasants, and 60s, i.e. muted cubism and expressionism. Even the politically engaged part of the collection contains but one portrait of Beloved Leader Comrade Rákosi, but even that is just an official photograph of his put within frames. Not so with Comrade Lenin, however. We meet scores of his portraits in various sizes containing primitive errors in draughtsmanship or colour technique; we meet head-on even a lacquered woodwork, or a China copy of Pál Pátzay’s bronze bust. Most of the stuff was the product of József Csáki-Maronyák, reliable, industrious manufacturer of official portraits in the 50s.
Socialist realism of any worth in the true sense of the word is missing, however. The real thing, i.e. Soviet socialist realism is only present via a few framed colour reproductions. Not more than three or four late-Stalinist genre-paintings are exhibited for auction with their high note of optimism, silly didacticism, and low-key naturalism, the mark of an eagerness for official recognition. There is the poorly composed exemplary workman waving merrily from a train-window by Béla Zombory Moldován, and there is the Red Army warrior liberating the Hungarian countryside by József Molnár, and there are the miners, worthy of a better treatment, arising clumsily from their shaft by Oszvald Toroczkai.
There are of course several softer, more painterly works from the post-56 years, the period when culture politics eased its grip on the Socialist Realist requirement. We can see a melancholy lathe-factory floor by Sándor Baranyó, or some untethered female figures in a factory shop manufacturing TV parts by Lajos Áron Nagy. Socialist Realism was a trend with many voices; the further away we get from its mainstream, the more poetic moods and pleasant spectacles we encounter as we do on Luzsicza’s Shipyard Island.
Nor should we forget that styles became quite differentiated after 1956. László Óvári’s worker family out on a picnic (including a soldier in uniform) could still have been painted back in 1951 but the sombre Flight painted by Sándor Ék contains quite a bit of the fright the Muscovite artist must have felt during the weeks of the 56 Revolution. Culture politicians cared precious little about forms after 56. Even the castrated hangovers of some of the „isms” could be reconciled with the Kádár-regime’s striving for „modernity”. Diligent epigone of Picasso, etcher Ádám Würtz gained only praise for his „formalistic” efforts, and even Comrade Lenin became suitable material to be serigraphed in Pop Art fashion.
The low-priced collection (e.g. a head in bronze of Comrade Dimitrov for a mere HUF 1 000) sends out the message that the artwork swept out of ministerial nooks and crannies is worth very-very little even when looked at in its own context.
EXITS – A Show by Attila Szűcs
2 December – 15 January 2011
Deák Erika Gallery
The recent crop of the popular contemporary painter introduces us to the occasion of a solar eclipse. Couples hanging on to their lie-lows, figures wearing swimming trunks as they are scanning the dark skies amid endless beach-slides are the main themes of Szűcs’ latest pictures revelling in powerful greens, fluorescent pinks, and dark-greys, the colours of a dream we have all probably seen with our mind’s eye. The term EXITS is not merely indicative of the real-life signals appearing above doorways but also of the permeability of separate worlds, and also of the revelatory transition of Szűcs’ internal world into external paintings.
Words Falling Upon Us – A Show by Lajos Csontó
1 December – 15 January, 2011
Miskolc Gallery, Municipal Art Museum
Conceptual artist Lajos Csontó presents a large-type text in the exhibiting space of Miskolc Gallery covered in black plastic sheets. The text is difficult to interpret since some time before the opening of the show the words fixed upon the walls had fallen to the floor and broken up into small pieces. The installation evokes the problem of our ever-changing relationship to memory, and mobilises the scraps of ideas and common place notions that have grown on us over our lives.
History – Martin Piaček (SK) and Ilona Németh (SK)
1 December – 29 January, 2011
Sculptor Martin Piaček was born in Bratislava and now lives in Rajka. Ilona Németh lives and works in Dunaszerdahely. Witnessing the degradation of Hungarian-Slovak relations, they set out to co-operate. Piaček’s statue recalling the discriminative Benes decrees is exhibited side by side with Ilona Németh’s video and installation entitled Tussle in the Mud, an ironic reference to the two nations’ competing political emotions.
PSEUDO 40 PAUER 70 – A Show Marking Two Anniversaries
30 November – 28 February, 2011
Art Collection of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
It was in October 1970 that neo-avantgarde artist Gyula Pauer organised the first Pseudo exhibition and published his First Pseudo Manifesto in a few mimeographed copies. Marking the artist’s 70th birthday, the exhibition presents a wide variety of pseudo-art together with its wide-ranging sources and documents in a rather majestic setting.