An Art Market Bleeding from Many Wounds | Outside the Cartouche: International Monochrome Paintings | Priapus – A Show by Csaba Kis Róka | Stopped – A Show by Tom Fabritius | HELLO, I AM BARNIE – A Show by Barnie Tóth
Lajos Golovics: An Art Market Bleeding from Many Wounds
In the second year of the financial crunch the Hungarian art market, too, is reeling from its effects. Hopes are occasionally raised by news of recovery from foreign countries but what is certain is that in Hungary the last year of normalcy was 2008. With Kieselbach Gallery temporarily absent from the auction market, Judit Virág’s Gallery is clearly leading the way with some of the others (Nagyházi, BÁV, Polgár, Abigail and Belvedere) auctioning their ware quite steadily, too. One also has to mention Missionart, Arte, Pintér, Villás and Képcsarnok among those trying to keep abreast with the rest.
Let me illustrate this by Judit Virág’s 17 October auction since one is best advised by the example set by a leading firm. The preparation of the auction proceeded in a most orderly fashion. I had been to the preview and seen many outstanding pictures, and even visualised the heights to which their hammer prices might rise. Last night, however, all preliminary expectations were treated a rather cruel blow. There was no bidding on works that could under normal conditions have safeguarded the success of an entire auction night. Many extraordinary works invited hardly any bidding and many others were sold for their modest asking price only.
I have followed Judit Virág’s auctioning skills ever since she bedazzled audiences in the late 1980s side by side with Mr. Anaf, the highly skilled French auctioneer. She is a most professional auctioneer, and she can overcome even her minor gaffs or mistakes with unusual expertise. Still, as I watched her last night I felt that she was visibly embarrassed by what was happening at this „crisis” auction.
No one raised a hand on András Mikola’s Marketplace for HUF 750 000. Although a slight surprise, one can accept it since the work was not signed. The sky was first overcast with Lot No. 34, i.e. Mednyánszky’s beautiful landscape, one of the prime pictures of the night, which was bought without any bidding, just for its asking price of HUF 2M. Another cloud appeared on the sky with Lot No. 37, i.e. Aba-Novák’s Lunch, an item reproduced and exhibited several times, which also failed to invite any bidding. Under normal circumstances – which are long gone, unfortunately – this lot would not have stopped under HUF 10M.
Then came Kmetty’s dazzling picture from the 1910s which jumped only once, i.e. from HUF 7,5M to 8M even though this one, too, would have deserved to change hands for at least HUF 10M. The auctioneer and her audience were still gaping with surprise when it was the turn for Aba-Novák’s top favourite Sunday Lunch reproduced many times, to wreak havoc, a picture surely in the HUF 10M category. Believe it or not, no one raised a hand at HUF 6,5M!
And this moment drove home a truth of devastating proportions. The crisis was gnawing away at the marketing machinery of even the most professional auctioning house in Hungary and also the purchasing power of its most sophisticated clientele. I don’t want to be misunderstood: they are by no means to blame for this. It became clear in an instant that what is needed is a radically different marketing strategy since even the best flying firms have been grounded by the vacuum caused by the world-wide art market crisis.
Let me add hastily that any other firm would gladly accept the sales figures of last night’s auction. But one thing is clear from now on: every single art market firm in Hungary must reckon with the shock-waves that are able to jolt even the strongest among them.
Outside the Cartouche: International Monochrome Paintings
23 October – 13 February 2011
MODEM – Modern Contemporary Arts Centre
Like in previous years, MODEM sets up an exhibition of selected items of the Antal–Lusztig Collection. This year’s offering, however, is gping to be special, first because foreign artists including such stars as Joseph Beuys, Gerhardt Richter, Ilja Kabakov, Joseph Marioni or Dieter Roth will also be represented, and second, because a complementary exhibition (also selected from the Antal–Lusztig Collection) on the theme of Melancholy in Modern Art (offering some international artists, too) will strengthen the effect of the monochrome show.
Priapus – A Show by Csaba Kis Róka
22 October – 5 November
Irokéz Gallery, Szombathely
Csaba Kis Róka is one of the most persistent young artists of the last few years. His trademark is his bestiary repeated without bounds in his many pieces. The sadism and bestiality of his paintings recall some of the cruellest episodes of mankind’s history such as martyrdom, the Inquisition, the horrors of modern wars, the torturing of helpless prisoners of war, etc. Apart from male sexual organs and symbols of cannibalism Kis Róka’s pictures also demonstrate rough humour and irony that work for alienating the visitors from the true depths of human suffering shown.
Stopped – A Show by Tom Fabritius
21 October – 27 November
Erika Deák Gallery
Tom Fabritius was born in 1972 in Radeberg, Germany. He studied in Leipzig where he has his home today. This is his first showing in Hungary. His main source of inspiration is television. He watches the muted set for hours until an exciting picture comes up. There he stops the flow of time and turns the scene into a painting. He paints genre pictures of the modern brand. The quick drying out of watercolour forces him the work rather fast and also in a final way since there is no scope for changing what has once been put on paper
HELLO, I AM BARNIE – A Show by Barnie Tóth
21 October – 15 November
Polis Caffé Culturale – hybrid art&cafe
Polis Caffe Culturale – hybrid art&cafe strives to offer a platform for those newly graduating from Moholy-Nagy Art University. At this, second leg of the series, it is Graduate in Photography Barnabás Tóth’s turn to demonstrate his talent by his newly shot photographs.