Blood Mountain Foundation | Searching for Someone to Direct the Műcsarnok | Trafó Gallery Headed by a new Director | LUX – A show by Erik Mátrai | Free Space – A Show by Márton Barabás
Gábor Rieder: Blood Mountain Foundation
The inside of a villa on Budapest’s Rose Hill turned into a conceptual, designer interior has invigorated the sleepy institutional set-up of the Hungarian contemporary art scene.
True, the name Blood Mountain Foundation sounds a little sinister (a fact mentioned ahead of Hungarian journalists by the critic of Art Newspaper in December), but it merely denotes the place (Vérhalom = Blood Hill, a district of Rose Hill) where the gallery is situated, right above the sepulchre edifice of Turkish administrator Gül Baba, a domed building dating back to the Turkish occupation of Buda.
The villa itself follows Neo-Baroque lines with its windows bearing the coat-of-arms, and its heavy oak doors having circular rather than angular tops. The inlaid wooden bookcase and the majestic garden only add to the general, irresistible effect, an effect to be utilised to the full by art historian Judit Niklai recently re-settling from London. Her project is this: she invites noted foreign artists to stay with her family and come forward with a special exhibit in the villa, i.e. an exhibit replete with the spirit of Vérhalom and Budapest at large.
Her first guest and exhibitor is Cuban artist Diango Hernández based in Düsseldorf – a perfect choice, I must add at once. Sensitive to new designer ideas, the conceptual artist had certainly made himself at home by e.g. taking his bedroom door off its hinges (saying that Cubans prefer continuous living spaces), visiting all the flea-markets of the city and purchasing heaps of old furniture fragments. As an homage to Brancusi’s Infinite Column, he laid out dozens of Neo-Renaissance chairlegs on the floor. He also stood a tabletop on its edge and heaped fragments of Thonet chairs upon it, with the blank, worm-holed frame of an oval mirror hanging on the opposite wall.
The entire installation is one big metaphor of Budapest. Also exhibited are some cheap Hungarian postage stamps printed in the days of Socialism. (A series commemorating tropical flowers is projected on the bedroom walls recalling the climes of his native Cuba). To spite the Baroque curvatures of the plaster ceiling ornaments, he has hung up some classics of modern design: simple spheres of lighting.
Every guest artist will feel that it is mandatory to somehow include the huge bookcase into the installation occupying the sitting room. Hernandez has chosen a simple solution: he pinned up old, black-and-white press photographs picturing busy factory floors and concrete corn silos. He had called in internationally known hat designer Valéria Fazekas who placed some of her more fantastic designer hats on the upper shelf. The furry objects of greyish colours have an Utopian look as they blink upon the visitors from behind the glass. What they say is this: it is entirely possible in Hungary, too, to establish a cool art centre offering taste, spirit, kindness, beautiful surroundings, fine coffee, and flesh-and-blood foreign artists coming and going.
Contemporary art does entail a form of living detached from any theory of art or social criticism engulfing as it does a style of living filled with creativity and visual excitement. It is this very contemporary life-style that can be experienced at Blood Mountain Foundation in a casual manner.
The independent foundation backed by steady financing is considering branching off into foreign settings that could some day invite and entertain Hungarian artists. For the time being, it is content with introducing the whole wide world to Budapest’s Rose Hill.
Blood Mountain Foundation
17 November, 2010 – 30 January, 2011
Searching for Someone to Direct the Műcsarnok
The person to direct the Műcsarnok continues to be uncertain. Ultra-rich aristocrat Francesca von Habsburg, owner of the trendy Viennese gallery TB-A21, is still in contest. An article posted on index.hu says that even though she is a well-known figure of international art events, she lacks a university degree and knows no Hungarian – two circumstances working against her getting the post. Since time is running out for the new government secretary charged with finding a new director, probably no new competition will be conducted – a circumstance working for the Duchess getting the post.
Trafó Gallery Headed by a new Director
A successful young curator, Áron Fenyvesi has been appointed as director of Trafó Gallery, one of the Budapest art settings with the best international connections. He was born in largely Hungarian Újvidék (Novi Sad) in the former Yugoslavia in 1983. He graduated in art history and aesthetics from ELTE University, Budapest. He served as secretary of the Young Artists’ Studio in 2008-2009. From 2007 onwards he has curated or co-curated many important international exhibitions including the Regensburg donumenta last year.
LUX – A show by Erik Mátrai
7 January – 5 February
Institute of Contemporary Art – Dunaújváros
The young contemporary Erik Mátrai works above all with light. Visiting his show is a special experience because in the spaces filled with smoke he can create very special light effects. His works relate sensitively to traditions exploring myths, religions, and the grey area between life and death.
Free Space – A Show by Márton Barabás
6 January – 30 January
Zsófi Faur – Ráday Gallery
Although Márton Barabás had started out with, and occasionally still returns to, traditional oil painting, throughout his career of three and a half decades he has been persistently attracted by the spatial experience, a fact proven by his attraction to spatial constructions containing piano parts, and reliefs. His peculiar boxes contain all manner of piano parts from leg-rollers to pedals, from dismantled keys to music stands, from covers to strings, from hammers to mufflers made of felt. The result is a witty and cunning cluster synthetising plastic ideas with musical effects.