Budapest Art Fair 2010 | Mihály Munkácsy: The Christ Trilogy | „R.D.” – A Show by Ákos Birkás | MEADOWLANDS – A Show by Gergely Szatmári | I Want to be Sentimental – A Show by Mariann Imre
Gábor Rieder: Budapest Art Fair 2010
For all the financial crunch, and most small galleries withering away, Budapest Art Fair keeps on growing as it marches towards the ideal of big international art fairs. It was to this end in the first place that it had separated from its erstwhile spouse Antik Enteriőr, a show living its separate life in the Museum of Ethnography ever since, while Budapest Art Fair has donned a trendy contemporary garb maintained and even improved with determination from year to year. Classical paintings and furniture have been ousted from the rooms to give much-needed space to photography and video art.
Elbowing with one another for attention are the modern expat Hungarian masters who had hit the big time in Paris next to their „poor relations” who had stayed in Hungary for their share of the Holocaust: Simon Hantai next to Endre Bálint, Alfred Reth next to Lili Ország, Tibor Csernus next to Lajos Vajda. For good measure, there are also the masters who were foreigners from birth like Brancusi (whose pencil-drawings are offered by Colors Art of Bucharest), or Miró, Dali, Chagall (whose lithographs are offered by Gilden’s Art, the only London-based gallery recurrently present at Art Fair).
It would take a veritable miracle, however, to successfully persuade foreign buyers to buy art on a small-scale East-Central-European art market at a time of a global financial crisis.
Organisers have come up with a clever stop-gap move. They had got together two dozen East-European galleries dealing mainly in Russian art and could mount a show by a cocktail of galleries named Heroes Corner. This move has given the Fair an international flavour which is a very welcome addition to its attractions.
A photograph of Putin with a true KGB look on his face, a nude riding a red horse, the obligatory portrait of Lenin stood in the corner of a room, and samples of the galleries’ other offerings – Heroes Corner speaks of the grand dream of persuading the big beasts, whether gallery-owners, collectors, buyers, investors or artists, commuting between a smoothly running Western art market and the big-time Russian oligarchs to stop over in Budapest, and once they are here they might as well take a look at galleries and fairs operating in the Carpathian Basin.
In any case, the selection is copious, standards are continuously rising, the ambition being to reach the level of major international fairs.
Also present at Art Fair is the cream of Budapest galleries dealing in contemporary art. Some insist on oil-on-canvas fare hung up on their walls while others wish to present their fare more spectacularly. Gallery acb rotates some small sculptures in the depths of its chambers painted black. Dovin Gallery astonishes visitors with a larger-than-life sculpture of King Mathias plucking the strings of his guitar. BUMBUM Gallery has set a large-size conference of dogs in the middle of its room decorated by large-size oil paintings of naked male homosexuals. (Sculptor Gábor Miklós Szőke is the maker of those two large sitting black dogs, nailed together from woodwork, which are mounted at the entrance of Műcsarnok.) Inda, Videospace and Viltin Galleries have joined forces to fill up one of the larger rooms with e.g. a lightbox worked by a remote controller, an animated watercolour, or a detergent bottle and its top carved in marble.
Other galleries have made no extra effort presenting as they have done the most characteristic works of their respective artists. 2B Gallery offers its DIY aesthetics of woodwork and metalwork, Knoll Gallery its virtuoso figurative canvasses, G13 Gallery remembers old times with some recent watercolours by Zuzu and Vető, Kisterem Gallery presents a fake encaustic map by Societe Realiste which has recently won the AVIVA Prize. Deák Erika Gallery tries its luck with the abstract lawn of iski Kocsis. At the stand of Vintage Gallery we can admire the abstract light gimmicks of Gábor Ősz which have won first prize from Paris Photo. Ani Molnár’s Gallery has brought some apple-cores bent from metal, Várfok Gallery, some well-made yellow abstract paintings and some large painted collages by Zsuzsi Csiszér, while Spiritusz Gallery taunts the rules of perception with some holograms made by Komlovszky-Szvet.
Art Fair has grown up, it is no more a sour kind of orange. It has reached a level of copiousness indispensible for any major art fair. It may be possible to tour it at one go, but it is no more possible to digest it.
Mihály Munkácsy: The Christ Trilogy
23 November – 30 April, 2011
Hungarian National Gallery
The chance for one of the three world-famous paintings (Ecce Homo) to appear at the Hungarian National Gallery has been given by the refurbishment of the Déri Museum of Debrecen, but the other two pieces are here by courtesy of the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Canada (Christ before Pilate), and expat Hungarian collector Imre Pákh (Golgotha). Accompanying the three huge paintings will be oil and graphic sketches from the HNG’s collection never before seen by the public.
„R.D.” – A Show by Ákos Birkás
27 November – 22 January, 2011
Knoll Gallery, Budapest
The initials are those of Rudi Dutschke, but also of his political opponent, Rolf Dahrendorf – which is a nice indication of the painter’s theme: 1968. Although the student protests had unleashed extraordinary intellectual effects, they arrived in Hungary belatedly and in a fragmentary way. Ákos Birkás presents some of his retrospective drawings, too.
MEADOWLANDS – A Show by Gergely Szatmári
26 November – 28 January 2011
kArton Gallery and Museum
Meadowlands is the name of the salt-water marshland in the North-East of New Jersey lying between New York City and Newark. Highly polluted until recently, it is an ecosystem in the process of re-cultivation. These photographs not only record the landscapes and cityscapes but also the faces of people living in them.
I Want to be Sentimental – A Show by Mariann Imre
23 November – 19 December
Civil Club of Óbuda
Talking about her show, Mariann Imre said this: I got a heavy glass heart as a present not long ago. I tried to fix it on my Christmas-tree but it pulled down its branches. I then decided to sew my Christmas decoration, a very sentimental project. I wrote up ’I don’t want to be sentimental’ but then I thought why on earth should I not be sentimental, and so I wrote up ’I want to be sentimental’.