Page 165

324

Art to see, art to buy

Buying artwork During the last two or three decades most art of any quality has been sold straight by the artists, directly from their studios to friends and collectors. Collectors should first go to galleries and look around. Ask the gallery owners to organize visits to artists who catch your eye. It will be worth paying the gallery’s mark-up since you will also be able to leaf through catalogues and colour transparencies and you will be helped with formalities like the necessary permit for taking works of art out of the EU (which might prevent embarrassing moments at the border). The gallery world is still a small one in Hungary: friendliness, jealousy and pickiness are all features. It is worth visiting some artists through their galleries to see the rather old-world, unspoiled way of life they lead. They are artists, daydreamers, social critics and craftspeople at the same time – so different from the stars of the Western hemisphere. A good prelude to purchasing Hungarian art might be a visit to Lumú (the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art). You can visit any of the artists exhibited there through practically any of the galleries mentioned above. (See Walk Five).

Name-dropping: art to live with I know many artists, and I will try to avoid offending them by emphasizing that the following list is not about their artistic greatness, but about friendliness and decorative value. This list of my favourites is a highly subjective one. There are others, who are great for museums or for real collectors (who will hardly rely on my advanced-amateur advice concerning what to buy). In my home there are two paintings by Gábor Karátson, the writer, painter, eco-advocate and Oriental thinker. He is a living legend, a maverick with long silver hair, who practically never sells his art. He would rather face difficulties paying his electricity bill. I especially like his oil paintings from the 1970s with picturesque titles (like the one that hangs in my living room: Borg hits the ball during serving in the 1974 Monte Carlo Open Tournament) and his illustrations to Goethe’s Faust. Obviously, he is not represented by galleries, but any of them can contact him. Károly Kelemen paints large, sensual canvases, full of bright colours. Since the mid 1980s they always include some teddy bears. He loves to paraphrase some of Picasso’s classics. He is a large man with a permanent smile. Like a giant teddy bear, he is very easygoing and he rarely says no to one more glass.

PARK_Budapest_belivek_v065.indd 324-325

Art to see, art to buy

325

László Fehér is a rare artist who is universally acclaimed by the man in the street, the Hungarian art critic guru, and the international gallery world. They all agree on his importance as an artist. Fehér has intense, usually large canvases. They often have a white, outlined little boy against black backdrops. His other favourite colour is yellow. You probably will not have enough cash with you to buy one of his paintings, and only certain kinds of American Express cards allow withdrawals that large. He has a large studio in a village called Tác, which is between Budapest and Lake Balaton. If you visit, don’t eat for three days. He insists on entertaining guests at his dinner table in a manner worthy of 2nd and 3rd century Roman emperors. Being his godfather, I have long been biased towards the art of István Orosz, at least since I suggested he take a Greek pseudonym OUTIS (“ooh-tis”), which means Nobody in Greek. Odysseus pretended to be called this when Cyclops, the one-eyed giant, asked him his name. (So when he had been blinded and was howling in agony and his fellow giants asked who had hurt him, he thundered: “Nobody hurt me! Nobody hurt me”.) István is a self-confessed disciple of M. C. Escher, the Dutch graphic artist, and much more. He resurrected the ancient medieval genre of “anamorphosis”. He has been an animated film director, and he is also a highly successful poster-designer. In my flat I have some of his brilliant, illusionist etchings that express his constant homage to classical antiquity and to Piranesi. He isn’t represented by galleries (as far as I know). He lives in Budakeszi, a suburb about 20 kilometres west of Budapest. I mentioned Győző Somogyi, the Salföld hermit, above. For many years he only made bitter black-and-white prints that provided a sort of X-ray of an impoverished Hungary sinking into intellectual mediocrity and torpor. Then he decided to switch to painting colourful, large canvases of historical scenes. He became obsessed with military heroism. He is also active as an illustrator of books on the history of hussars. You might come across some of his original drawings made for these books. I also own some works by my friend and co-author of this book, painter/illustrator András Felvidéki. He has considerably helped to open my eyes to the subtleties of Budapest’s architecture and urban fabric. The works of his that I have are etchings of Budapest details and of imaginary, symbolic scenes that are unmistakably Budapest. Over the last couple of years he has begun to paint city scenes, trolley bus interiors, lit-up tele­ phone booths at night, and couples kissing on a bench in the old underground. He is a solitary figure who taught art students for many years.

2011.04.20. 15:50:08

Profile for Andras Török

András Török's Budapest: A Critical Guide  

The Celebrated Insider's Guide, upgraded many times, probably the deepest and funnieast and truest portrait of any major European city. With...

András Török's Budapest: A Critical Guide  

The Celebrated Insider's Guide, upgraded many times, probably the deepest and funnieast and truest portrait of any major European city. With...

Profile for andraas
Advertisement