Szoborfesztivál (Petőfi Sándor Vársi Művelődési Központ, Győr, 1997)

Győr, Sculpture Tibor Wehner, translated by Boldizsár Fejórvári "Yet the industry has given incentives for sculpture. Not industrial civilisation, rather industrial technology. ... Symposia functionating near factories were established in the mid-70's (Dunaújváros, Győr etc.) ... They provided the opportunity for the creation of many works, especially for minimalist and constructive artists, but in those days they could not renew Hungarian sculpture any more. Nevertheless they contributed greatly to the change of the general concept of sculpture." These lines were published by the art historian Ildikó Nagy in 1990 in her study Hagyomány és megújulás. A magyar szobrászat fordulata az 1960-as években (Tradition and Renewal. The Tűm of Hungarian Sculpture in the 1960's), but we would look in vain for the processing and evaluation of the collections generated in Hungarian symposia in the final third of the century; similarly no summarising analysis of art particularly sculpture in Hungary after 1945 has so far been released either. Studies investigating smaller areas and longer, essay-like reviews usually focus on the material of small sculpture or monumental trends, and thus the pieces and sculpture groups created within the scope of symposia have remained unresearched by art historians and marginally known by professional circles - albeit many important events ensued in these workshops. Villány (Siklós), Dunaújváros, Nagyatád and Győr - interestingly these four Transdanubian towns have given place to the activity and production of sculptural workshops in Hungary in the last three decades (Nyíregyháza received medallists): in these, works could be executed far from the professional artistic authorities and bureaucratic centres, breaking free from over-organised and controlled methods governing the completion and publicity of pieces of art. Monumental pieces and works exceeding the size restrictions of small sculpture - and hence requiring a studio and a good deal of raw material, i.e. huge expenses - could here be created without the commissioner's giving programmes, or else the system itself neutralised the commissioner; autonomous pieces of monumental as well as small sculpture could actually be executed totally freely in an East European environment, in wich, ironically, art was supported, tolerated and limited. It is remarkable, or rather regular that chiefly the artists from the tolerated and limited categories found rich sculptural possibilities in the Hungarian symposia, and therefore in Győr too. (This Fact is marvellously illustrated by these artists: there are exapmles of collections deservig publicity, wich have hitherto been neglected for well-night two decades, stored in lumber-rooms appointed temporary repositories, and only now, towadrs the end of the 90's they are finding their due place in permanent exhibitions.) The sculpture history attached to Győr is somewhat complicated by the fact that for these thirty years the symposium-organising initiative releaved fluctuating intensity, and various financing units, institutions supplied its background with various purposes. For instance one must remember the central factor that at first the Győr International Symposium attracted solely painters and graphic artists, and only in the second half of the 70's the sculptural profile was beginning to appear, through the events of RÁBA symphosia, whose bitter experiences was summed up by a member of the city council in 1980: “The plans in connection with this so-called RÁBA group ... have not in least been fulfilled. The professional standard of the mobiles, objects produced during the past tree years - as the official jury has ascertained - falls short of the required level, they got stuck on the level of experimenting with material and form." According to the predictable, hidden law of events, today we naturally deem these decried works perhaps the most significant prducts of the Győr symposium movement. The sculpture park, an exhibition space for large sculptures produced in Győr, and the 1997 Sculpture Festival displaying the works that break away from classical ideals and reveal a link with the symposium movement in Győr, will supply important professional information. Herbert Read, in Hungary still the most famous theoretician of modern sculpture, believes that the most characteristic attribute of sculpture in modem era is the phenomenon of a "second age of iron". Once again we refer to Ildikó Nagy's reflections: "Material, technology and the basic transfiguration of the ambiguous notion of artistic 'style' are all just surface marks of a profound change, of wich only some features could be perceived by Read (art brut, the domination of metals, linear sculpture, roughness, the rule of ugliness, realism - or else 'new realism' - as opposed to idealism etc.). This 'new age of iron' is a logical consequence of a process, which shows that sculpture - ever inspired by concepts - no longer attempts to express abstract ideas through the projection of vision." Looking back on the memorial collection, one may realise that Győr was bound organically to this experiment of finding a new language; its iron sculptures were governed by conceptual thinking rather than depiction and projection. Two main aspects seem obvious when one looks at the list of artists exhibiting in the park. Firstly, one must note that in Győr - just like in Dunaújváros, Villány and Nagyatád - foreign sculptors were invited besides the Hungarian participants, thus representing the desire of Hungarian art to find and establish points of connection and self-justification in a historical situation,whose tendencies were dedicated by eastern political and oppressive relationships. For instance, the Dutch Frits Vanén worked in Győr aswell as in Dunaújváros, Katalin Hetey took part of the events in Nagyatád and in Győr, and some Hungarian artists, who had formerly moved to other countries, returned to these symphosia, like Gabriella Fekete and Antal Lux. In addition, Willi Brands, Wolfgang Prager and Lutz Ackermann came from Germany, and the Dutch Jan Baetsen paid a visit, too. The other important conclusion concerns the group of Hungarian participants; autonomous sculptors were working in the city of rivers, progressive artists, who stayed away from the sphere of official art. In the second half of 70's a certain suspicion accompained the activity and oeuvre of the so-called "Rába group" (1978-1980: Bohus, Csiky, Ézsiás, Fajó, Győri, Haraszty, Hefter, Heritesz, Lugossy, Lux, Misch, I. Nádler, T. Nádler). Neither was the work of the following generation or other contemporaries (Budahelyi, Friedrich, Galántai, Horváth, Trombitás) appreciated unconditionally, nor was Ildikó Várnagy's artistic promotion free of problems and difficulties. It is worth mentioning that artists, whose primary field had been painting, were given abundant sculptural opportunities in Győr; János Fajó, Antal Lux, Adám Misch, István Nádler and Tibor Nádler could here satisfy their spatial aspirations. And, of course, the artists living permanently in Győr - István Ézsiás, László Hefter, Csaba Illés or György Galgóczy, the man of the 90's creating computergraphics and mobiles-, were extremly important members and organisers of this group of artists, who, by contributing their pieces, took part of the formation of a special unity. Observing the scope of the works created in Győr, one may conclude that - because of the material and technological conditions, the industrial background - geometrical sculptures, concepts and spatial organisation of highly constructive nature are dominant, and, aiongsie this, minimalist tendencies are discovered, mixed with initiatives of mobile sculpture and symbolic expression. The works in relation with the Győr symphosium also exemplify the attempt of Hungarian sculpture to catch up with international trends; the rejection of classical Sculptural conventions, the generating of a new sculptural status, the search for new means in spatial organisation, expression and manifestation. This progressive attitude, this direction accounts for the fact that only an insignificant number of pieces of this sort could be erected in public places (Zoltán Bohus, Tibor Csiky, István Haraszt', László Hefter). A very important era of the city's art history is outlined by the opening of the sculpture park, the display of the small sculptures and exhibition pieces once produced at these symphosia. This collection attests to the facts that some of tibor Csikós works of outstanding importance were created here (mainly small sculptures by one of the innovators of modem Hungarian sculpture), that several pieces by István Haraszf, a leader of kinetic sculpture in Hungary, whose career has been unique, also relate to Győr, that Csiky's grave memorial (by Tibor Budahelyi), a most peculiar, masterly composition in this usually conventional, rigid genre was composed here,that the development of István Ézsiás's oeuvre depended largely on these symposia, that Agnes Péteris sculpture, concentrating miraculous contents, finds permanent display in this exhibition, that Rezső Móder from Dunaújváros, the creator of iron pieces, which fit in no category, has donated a work to the city, that the generation of artists after Csiky (e.g. Sándor Csepregi, Gábor Mihály Nagy, Ferenc Nemes and János Szász among many others) formed a significant constructivist group in Győr, and many more positive notes may be made. We could refer to many more works, artists, attemts and tendencies. (In the light of these pieces, these phenomena and these oeuvres we read as a weird document the 1980 declaration of the city council: "In the spirit of the announcement by the party, we have assigned environmental aesthetics, cityscape-formation and city architecture as the new fields of activity for the creative workshop movement.'1) This collection consisting of works of art by Hungarian and West European artists - beyond its inherent values - reminds one of the fact that in Győr a tradition has been established, whose interruption would be an irresponsible act, and would cause enormous damage. This valuable group of pieces, this artistic phenomenon, or "art history", generated by the mentality of these works, must not become a relic: in some form it will hopefully prove the active provoking factor for the continuation of these traditions. (Works by other, less dominant artists, sculptors of the symphosia will be displayed within the frame of the anniversary exhibition.) Petőfi Sándor Városi Művelődési Központ Győr, Árpád út 44.

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