Raised in Budapest, inspired in Paris and formed by his time in Szentendre, Endre Bálint’s became a key voice in the lost generation of Hungary’s avant-garde.
In honour of the 100-year anniversary of his birth, the Hungarian National Gallery is paying tribute to Bálint’s work, as it continues its series of exhibitions that showcase important Hungarian artists.
The exhibition dedicated to the abstract artist, whose canvases are peppered with surrealism, expressionism and collage work, offers visitors a chance to see a vast catalogue of Bálint’s art with 350 pieces in total, with displays from him, his contemporaries and those who inspired him in his formative years, such as Picasso and Braque.
Beautifully curated in chronological and thematic progression, “The Eighth Church: The Art of Endre Bálint” gives visitors a chance to understand the origins of this brilliant artist of the Hungarian avant-garde.
Put into a Jewish orphanage after the death of his father during his infancy, where his health suffered and left him with pulmonary problems for life, Bálint’s own dark past and worrying political present of mid-20th century Hungary all contributed to the development of his art.
At his peak, Bálint’s work was unique, manifesting in a tapestry of painted wood in abstract, primitive motifs inspired from his time in Szentendre. His work is presented at the gallery as a puzzle already solved after following a linear trajectory that takes us through his evolution as an artist.
The exhibition traces his early work from his inspiration by the greats such as Picasso, Modigliani and Braque, through to his days with Lajos Vajda, who became his mentor and life-long friend and infused Bálint’s style with a unique warmness and discipline.
His influences from the Paris giants fade into the background as the artist found his own voice on canvas, exploring themes inspired during his time in Szentendre through Vajda’s work, and his dabbling in Surrealism, which led him to exhibit in Paris after meeting André Breton. Along with his collage work, which wouldn’t be out of place in surreal ruin bar “Instant”, and his later influences from other Hungarian avant-garde artists, such as Moholy-Nagy and Lajos Kassás, all contributed to hurrying along his primitive form of abstract art that playfully handles texture.
The exhibition is immense, but it gives even the uninitiated a view and an insight into the artist’s mind and life by showing how all Bálint’s influences and earlier work led to his late masterpieces, like the altarpiece at the climax of the exhibition, The Eighth Church.
A must-see for all lovers of the vanguard and those looking for visual stimulation rich in colour and expression.
Szent György tér 2
Tel.: (+36) 20 439-7325
Open: Tues.-Sun. 10am-6pm
Dates: 1 February-11 May
Price: HUF 2,400