Visual art of this country is paradoxical, explosive, surprising. It is impossible to ‘reduce it to a common denominator’ as well as its artists: here both an aristocrat and a pharmacist could be painter and an engineer could abandon his trade for the sake of painting. Unpredictable, practically prototype-less like a Hungarian language where main words have nothing in common with corresponding words in the most widespread languages of Western Europe. It is like history of its state that for centuries held sovereignty in the heart of the continent. Even as a part of the Austrian Empire it managed to get a strong autonomy formally equal to a ruling Austrian component.
Development of the art in this country was greatly affected by colorful ethnographic foundation that can seem to be a weird exotic to alien eyes, from the festive clothes to unusual architecture and culinary practice. And carriers of this tradition themselves took it as a guarantee of society dignity. Another important factor was a condensed atmosphere of mystery (isn’t it for that reason Antal Ligeti has traveled all of the Middle East back in 1840-s?), an everyday magic softly poured over the canvas and in the artistic words. “Where does a Hungarian fairy hide?” – in this way one of the local fairy tales begins.
Not the last role was played in that by Hungarian nature. “Steppe far away in the golden wheat// Where haze conjures in the summer heat// By play of misty picture-ghosts”, - we read in the poem “Back Home” (1842) by the coryphaeus of the national literature Sandor Petofi. Here lakes are neighbors to mountains, healing springs adjoin man-made castles and there are hundreds of them here. Quite a lot of picturesque sceneries mirrored not only in the pictures of just Hungarian authors but of the Ukrainian Transcarpathia artists as well who were influenced by this tradition (Yosyp Bokshay, Fedir Manaylo).
ine arts got recognizable forms since the second half of XIX century when a separate generation of artists who earlier preferred to work abroad came back to homeland and established artistic colonies in the provincial localities.
A key man of this age was a painter Mihaly Munkacsy who was called ‘untamed realist’ by the Russian critic Vladimir Statsov for one of his pictures he was awarded a gold medal of Salon de Paris. At the same time his younger contemporaries wished to work in the open air thus ignoring social issues compared to search of form. In this sense it is impossible to overpraise achievements of such a master as Jozsef Rippl-Ronai who living in a small town has painted more than 3000 pictures.
For the next decades Hungarian art developed in sync with the world processes grasping attention even at the Venice biennales – its own pavilion appeared there 20 years before the pavilion of the
United States. Such original artists as Mihaly Tivadar Csontvary Kosztka and Aba Novak in painting and Zsigmond Kisfaludi Strobl in sculpture became renowned worldwide in the XX century.
Following and reconceiving lessons of the classic Hungarian artists live and work. And it is obvious even with such a popular painter as Andreas Fogarasi. Strong professional traditions in combination with unique decorativeness ascertain high level of the creative production and big prospects that open to the authors as far away as anyone can see.
Oleh Sydor-Hibelynda, art critic