The opening of Ákos Matzon’s “Aspects” exhibition in the Balassi Institute was accompanied by a symposium on the “German Renaissance in Central Europe”. The common history of Germany and Hungary was discussed, in particular the fate of the so-called “Schwabians by the Danube”. Matzon himself is a Hungarian coming from a German minority. His two-dimensional sculptures can be seen in the institute on Somlói út until 26 November.
Schwabians by the Danube – this is what they call the Germans who came to the territory of Hungary from the 17th to the 19th centuries. They settled in the Carpathian Basin along the banks of the Danube, after which their fate was to be constantly a toy of history.
After the First World War, when Hungary was divided up by the Treaty of Trianon, their territory was divided among Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia. After the Second World War they were systematically chased back to their beaten and occupied home country of Germany. The starting date of this deportation, 19 January 1946, has been a day of national commemoration in Hungary since the end of 2012.
The German ambassador, Matei I. Hoffmann, spoke at the symposium about this gesture as a sign of friendship between Germany and Hungary. With the term “Renaissance” he was referring to the revival of German culture and language in Hungary after the liberation from communism. Nowadays the perception of Germans by Hungarians is very positive, Hoffman said. “We have to keep this tendency. We have inherited and not earned it. However, it depends on us to preserve and slowly grow this heritage.”
The German-Hungarian relationship, the common history of the two countries and the situation of the Hungarian Germans were discussed. What matters is that the Hungarian Germans do not have to hide any more, Eiler Ferenc, a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, said. Rudolf Weiss, the chairman of the German People’s Association from Woiwodina, said the Schwabians by the Danube are like the phoenix rising from its ashes.
Artist Ákos Matzon, who was born in Budapest, is a Hungarian German himself, and this is the only thing he has in common with the topics of the symposium. His works, two-dimensional sculptures with geometric figures and colourful surfaces and a simple modernity, form a sharp contrast to the historical load of the speeches at the symposium.
One piece reminds of the German flag with its black-red-white. The other works are dominated by white, grey and soft orange combined with squares, lines and crosses. Some of the pictures are reliefs with elevated shapes that detach themselves from the canvas.
In some he has used mirror pieces; the surface can be smooth or full of grid-like or fibrous structures. Despite their minimalism, the works are not boring, they are indeed very interesting to see and diverse thanks to their different textures and colours.
Matzon explains: “I have always been inspired by monochrome things, paintings working with only a few colours, especially white. Maybe the reason is that I do not want the cavalcade of colours to dominate and distract the viewer from the activity, the dynamics and the own life of the play of shadows and light on my multi-dimensional reliefs.”
We can guess from his art that Matzon is originally an architect: he loves clear shapes. He was born in 1945 in Budapest as son of Frigyes Matzon, a sculptor. He studied to be a structural engineer and then took the Architect course at Technical University of Budapest. He was awarded the Mihály Munkácsi Prize, the highest honour in Hungary in the field of fine arts, in March 2010.
Ákos Matzon: “Aspects“
Balassi Institute Budapest
District I, Somlói út 51
Until 26 November
Daily from 10am to 6pm