Between worlds

Lajos Vajda (1908–1941) is considered, by a very broad range of professionals, the most important Hungarian visual artist of the 1930s. His œuvre is usually described as lonely, original, unparalleled. And indeed: as one looks over Vajda’s different periods, the colourful image of an enigmatically philosophical, pioneering œuvre emerges, which was both constructive and elementally expressive, while being conceptual in many regards, and was alternating between reserved and deeply dramatic formal solutions. He may have been a lonely artist, but not without peers. While his insistence on autonomy and his talent made him intolerant of aesthetic, formal and social constraints, it was exactly the spirit of his age that provided the framework for his deliberate choice of the outsider’s position.
This exhibition at the Ferenczy Museum Center does not aspire to present the lonely artist who needs to be discovered again, but looks at internal and external motivators of the œuvre’s development, positioning the different sets of works in the broader context of their time and in the artist’s own personal narrative.
The exhibition gives a particular emphasis to the years when the artist was searching for his own direction, the period between 1922–1930. One reason is that the works he made at the time have been relatively little-known. The period is also of importance because the dichotomy of Vajda’s œuvre became evident from the start of his career: the intimate calm offered by family and the provincial surroundings was at variance with the thrill of discovering the world. The fellow artists he became friends with at the Academy of Fine Arts played an important part in the broadening of Vajda’s horizon: joining Lajos Kassák for a short time, they sought a way out of the conservative artistic milieu by exploring Constructivist and Surrealist endeavours elsewhere in Europe.
The time, however, when Vajda learned the most, was during his stay in Paris between 1930–1933, when he not only deepened his knowledge of art theory, but also made photomontages that were informed by Russian cinema. A photograph from 1934 shows a monumental “iconostasis” in which Vajda arranged works he made in Paris: socially conscious montages, and drawings of stirring sensuousness. In Paris he took an interest in the spirituality of Eastern, Orthodox religious communities and archaic ways of life, and his fascination grew after his return to Hungary. He carried out most of his research in Szentendre and the surrounding “untouched” villages, an activity in which he was briefly partnered by Dezső Korniss. His abandonment of the modern world of Szentendre-themed line drawings, however, was motivated not by nostalgia, but by the desire for concentrated observation and formal analysis, and at around 1937 the austere line structures to which visible reality had been stripped were supplanted by deconstruction and abstraction. As a subject, Szentendre disappeared, dissolved in the thicket of lines formed by the well-known motifs that were now projected one on top of the other (steeples, gravestones and willow branches). By 1938, Vajda’s masks and surrealistic landscapes had become dominated by the ancient formal order of archaic, primitive and tribal art, before his art and creative persona eventually left behind all visual and pictorial conventions and completely dissolved in the elemental expressivity and subjectivity of the line that was born for its own sake—which did make him peerless in the contemporary art of Hungary.
When he died in 1941, Lajos Vajda was aged 33. His work was a compromise-free answer to the general issues of the 1930s, a period marked by philosophical and historical crises. His response had its analogies and parallels in the contemporary art of not only Europe, but of North America as well.
With the help of some 150 artworks – almost thirty of which have come from foreign private collections – this exhibition identifies key turning points and questions in the work of Lajos Vajda, while the studies of the accompanying catalogue position his œuvre in a wider context.




21 grams

The opening takes place at 4 pm 13 October 2018 at the ArtMill.


Welcome speech by: Gábor Gulyás museum director

Salutational by:Miklós Verseghi-Nagy, Mayor of Szentendre

The exhibition will be opened by Zoltán Balog churchman

Performs: Kati Wolf singstress

Curator: Brigitta Muladi
„The inspired quality of Katalin Rényi’s art originates from this humble acknowledgement – and, without exception, always leads us back to the sacred. To the soul, which, in this vain human world, only amounts 21 grams—but is, nonetheless, overly burdensome for many.” Gábor Gulyás


The exhibition is on view until 17 February 2019.


Photo: Katalin Rényi: Wings of the Soul, oil on canvas, 155 × 165 cm, Balázs Deim, Ferenczy Muzeum Center


Days of Lace until Sunday – at Sam Havadtoy’s exhibition

The exhibition entitled Memory of Love, by Sam Havadtoy, a visual artist of Hungarian descent, is still on view, until 30 September. The famous lace-covered works are on display in the Szentendre Room of the Ferenczy Museum: in addition to Betty Boo and portraits of women by Modigliani, an enormous rubber duck and a miniaturized Fiat 500 are also given a new look as a result of the artist’s “handiwork”.


Lace and Love in Szentendre

Memory of Love is the title of the exhibition opening in the Szentendre Room of the Ferenczy Museum, which will primarily showcase Sam Havadtoy’s latest works, created in his Szentendre studio. Formerly an interior designer, the artists now covers old objects and stories in lace. When, at the age of nineteen, he moved to the United States, this was the most obvious difference between European and New-World homes: in Europe, everything has an old story attached to it, just as hand-stitched lacework does as it is passed down from one generation of women to the next.

The art of Sam Havadtoy, who worked alongside such artists as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Agnes Martin and Robert Rauschenberg, has primarily been influenced by American abstract geometrism, pop art, and conceptual art. But perhaps what is even more important when characterizing the artist’s work is the ordinarily simple and yet splendidly uplifting spirit with which he strives to live and create – the same light-hearted brightness that also vibrates on his painting shirt, spotted with vivid, radiant colours.


Read more about the exhibition: HERE.


Photo credit: Sam Havadtoy, Fiat 500, bronze, lace, acrylic, gold leaf, 21x22x49 cm, 2018.

Our exhibitions that will continue to be open until 9 September

Although we are saying goodbye to this year’s Art Capital exhibitions, we have a number of temporary shows that are still on view until 9 September:

The deservedly famous exhibition View, featuring Erik Mátrai’s mega-highstand, remains open for one more week in the courtyard of the Czóbel Museum. The structure offers a view of Szentendre’s rooftops from a rarely seen perspective. While, in the interest of protecting the rights of local residents, taking photographs is not allowed, visitors will be sure to behold a vista that is hard to forget.

The exhibition entitled Opening a Way to Freedom – Béni Ferenczy’s Art has much excitement in store even for returning visitors: it explores the Ferenczy Family’s secrets and maps out the close relationship between twin brother and sister, Béni and Noémi. The show, which is held in the Ferency Museum, reveals the identity of the famous figures who inspired Béni Ferency, as well as the family members and children who were present in his life – and, of course, most importantly, sheds light on how the sculptor himself saw them.

One of this year’s most exciting contemporary exhibitions, No More Secrets! – László Gerő’s international art collection, also continues to be open at the ArtMill. The core of the collection consists of works related to Viennese Actionism. There are also several works on display from the New Leipzig School and the avantgarde of the eighties, as well as by certain fascinating, “maverick” artists. Visitors will no doubt enjoy these works reflecting the greatly influential narratives of the recent past, often shrouded in secrets.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am – 6 pm.

The photo shows a work by each of the three artists: Henrik Martin, Erik Mátrai and Béni Ferenczy.