Japanese Cartoon Characters Stop Over in Budapest | Gábor Gulyás, newly appointed director of Budapest’s Műcsarnok | Margit Kovács Museum Refurbished in Szentendre | Ed Templeton: The Cemetery of Reason | Reefs of Noises – A Show by László Mulasics | SPACEMETAL – A Memorial Exhibit of Gábor Horváth (1974–2008)
Gábor Rieder: Japanese Cartoon Characters Stop Over in Budapest
The outdated showrooms of the Museum of Catering are literally crawling with Japanese cartoon characters. The travelling exhibit of rather modest size offers a long row of drawn fantasy figures, both male and female, and many kinds of supersonic robots – the stuff that makes international childrens’ TV-channels tick. Although we are promised a cultural history attitude, no one should expect social criticism from the show. There is no trace of alienated modern man depending on hi-tech for his survival, nor do we meet the actual school-aged viewers totally dependent on their favourite brands, nor indeed the actual Asian males mad about Lolita-type sexy girls with long thighs and short skirts.
What we do learn is that 8 Japanese out of 10 have some cartoon characters at home whether as a mascot, or sewn on a cushion, or as a protagonist in a comics-book, a film, a video-game, or on the outside of lunch-boxes. Even local governments are starting to picture themselves as mascot figures. Those human or animal fantasy figures are much more important to the Japanese as comics heroes are to the Americans. They are not just well-advertised trade products, but reincarnations of the Shintoist gods that survive in natural environments.
The English-language guide to the exhibition explains that cartoon figures tend to sooothe out the nerves of their agitated owners. Many young people are much more attached to those fictional figures than they are to their own flesh-and-blood realities. The tale of the legendary rise of these Japanese figures is illustrated at the show by such filming resources as full-size puppets, props, posters, etc. The rise had begum after WWII with the immense TV popularity in the 50-60s of Astro Boy, a cartoon child robot that could emit rays from his legs. With colour television came Ultraman with his childish film stunts. Other superheroes of the 70s were Masked Rider, the insectman riding a motorbyke, or Mazinger Z., the enormous robot monster who later begat the entire Transformers series.
Meanwhile, „kawaii”, a kind of sugary sweetness, also made its appearance giving birth to a whole new trend in professional design. One of its first products was Monchichi, a hairy baby-ape popular in Eastern Europe as well as in Japan. One should not forget, of course, the still popular white
kitten named Hello Kitty. Hungarian girls under 15 are still attached to Hello Kitty, a character that had been created as long back as in 1976.
By the 80s the three basic types of cartoon characters were on the launching pad: the charming toy animals, the student girls showing cleavage, and the fully armed robot fighters. They could be seen everywhere: on chewing gum stickers, or in slowly evolving computer games. Not even the depression in the 90s of the Japanese economy could stop their spread. In fact, this was the period when Tamagochi, the automated pet animal conquered the world only to be obscured in the 2000s by an array of small magicians called Pocemons.
The exhibition concludes that those small figurines are at the peak of their respective careers. Their future depends on animation programming. With a PC anybody can shoot his/her own film featuring those well-known characters.
Hungarian Museum of Trade and Catering
14 January – 14 February
Gábor Gulyás, newly appointed director of Budapest’s Műcsarnok
Stifling earlier conjectures, Gábor Gulyás will serve as the director of the most important art institution of the capital with a programme soon to be announced at a public press conference. Until now, Gulyás has headed the Debrecen MODEM Modern and Contemporary Art Centre since its launch in 2006. Earlier, he was editor-in-chief of the Debrecen literary journal Határ, and lecturer at the Philosophy Department of Debrecen University.
Margit Kovács Museum Refurbished in Szentendre
High-up politicians visiting Hungary were invariably escorted to Margit Kovács’ pottery museum in Szentendre in the 70s and 80s. The place has now been extended by a new wing, a projection room, suitable washrooms, a museum shop, and a memorial wall presenting picures of famous visitors. The house itself had first served as a salt-duty stop in the 18th century, later as a stop for mail coaches. Launched in 1973, the pottery collection was one of the most frequented museums of Hungary. It is again open to the public from 21st January.
Ed Templeton: The Cemetery of Reason
21 January – 20 March
Professional skate-boarder, painter, photographer, video artist, graphic artist, and sculptor, Ed Templeton (born 1972) is one of the most exciting artists to barge into Europe from America lately. Raised in a San Francisco suburb, he is a forthright and open personality not without a well-tempered critique of the US, what with his obsession with vegetarianism, sports, sensible leisure, and creativity. His watercolours coupled with photographic and textual elements portray the world-wide frustration of young people with elementary force.
Reefs of Noises – A Show by László Mulasics
24 January – 19 March
László Mulasics (1954-2001), an excellent painter of the Hungarian ’New Sensibility’ of the 80s had evolved his peculiar metaphysical style in the 90s quite autonomously. He is particularly noted for his paintings employing the encaustic technique of antiquity. Hosting pieces of his oeuvre is Várfok Gallery, a venture recently acquiring yet another venue in the small street leading up to Budapest’s Castle Hill.
SPACEMETAL – A Memorial Exhibit of Gábor Horváth (1974–2008)
22 January – 26 February
Miskolc Gallery – Municipal Art Museum
The Miskolc leg of the dual memorial exhibit (the other leg is put on by Budapest’s Mission Art Gallery) presents some of the best works of Horváth’s brief but copious career: while his large-size canvasses and sylicon paintings are on view in Miskolc, his paper works can be seen at the smaller Budapest venue.