Exhibition by fine artist recipients of the Hungarian Academy of Arts’ Arts Scholarship Programme 2018-2021
Artistic gesture – attention by the outside world – practice – success
The cycle of the above stages might be channelled back to itself, but it may also become a spiral thus accompanying artists through their decades-long preparation with this cycle extending into a life-long energising process of artistic creation. From children’s drawing through talent scouting to the structured system of primary, secondary and tertiary art education, artistic and creative talents may enter the first few decades of their career in arts from several angles and directions. It is at this point that the demanding selection process begins. It is here that the dimness of the different measurement and assessment instruments and processes is sometimes outshone by vibrant professional opinion or by the increased attention of institutional and for-profit sectors. At other times, a quite different thing happens: talent becomes silent creative praxis mirroring the artist’s modesty. Attention by the outside world is the most unpredictable factor in this stage of one’s artistic life: it is oftentimes accidental but it may also be destined. Even if there are some state-funded scholarship programmes including Derkovits Scholarship or scholarships offered by the National Cultural Fund of Hungary, these will target only a mere 10-20% of young artists. What may help in this situation and stage is the formerly established but still existing relationship between young talents and their masters and the development of currently budding art colony communities can likewise help. At the same time, commercial art galleries and workshops are also seeking to find, discover and contract real talents.
Ábel Szabó: Mother and daughter, 2019, oil on canvas, 90 x 120 cm, photo: Ábel Szabó
On the other hand, the Hungarian Academy of Arts’ Arts Scholarship Programme is a new and significant scholarship initiative. The results of the first cycle of the programme (2018-2021) are presented in the scope of the exhibition entitled Departure and the accompanying large-scale artistic publication and catalogue. When the Hungarian Academy of Arts developed its scholarship strategy, the underlying idea was that the three years covered by the grant was to provide a splendid opportunity guaranteeing a safe environment and security for the scholarship winners and that during these years they could devote their attention entirely and in a focus manner to their own work and creative artistic programme.
Tibor iski Kocsis: Balatonvilágos, diptichon, 2020, pastel, paper, 190 x 190 cm, photo: Dávid Biró
The scholarship programme, which is inviting applications for the fourth time this year, offers ample opportunities for talented Hungarian, Hungarian minority and Hungarian cultural minority artists between the ages of 20 and 50. The criteria of the award of the scholarship includes an important condition: grantees are supposed to submit reports every four months, but the nature and added value of such reporting obligation were unknown even to those organising the programme. The young artists involved in reporting were rather distrustful as the fulfilment of the reporting obligation means presenting artistic works and experiments that are still in the making.
Barbara Boba Bódi: Peers 2, portrait of Janó Bari , 2021, oil on canvas, 40x50 cm, photo: Barbara Boba Bódi
In fact, when creating art, fine artists take all associated risks alone: they have no boss to tell them what to do and they have no supervisor to provide expert opinion about their work, either. This means that after the conclusion and presentation of an artistic cycle, these artists – in addition to the thrill of publishing their works – are eager to get feedback from both professionals and the general public in the scope of solo or group exhibitions. Coming back to the submission of reports, it must be seen that this reporting obligation also offers the opportunity to open and reveal a potential artistic action route: in the scope of workshops these presenting young artists do not only show their works but can also engage in professional conversations about related individual and collective questions of a cultural or professional nature.
In the scope of the reports submitted by the first cycle of scholarship winners, it gradually turned out that the intensive programmes requiring reporting, the insights into the creative processes and the authentic presentations of diverse modes of expression are truly capable of revealing a wide variety of issues related to quality, dedication and personality with respect to the artistic expression involved in the works presented and in connection with some potential later cooperation between the scholarship winners. The twelve days the scholarship winners spent together during the three years of the scholarship period presented even the scholarship winners’ head of section with novel and effective means of artistic discourse. During the third reporting event, the community network among the “randomly selected” sixteen artists and the art historian involved became tangible. During the second year of the programme cycle, the COVID-19 pandemic ruled out the opportunity of having personal meetings, so the scholarship winners met through online platforms. Then in the scope of a personal meeting in the summer of 2021, the seventeen scholarship winners discussed the effects of the 6-month-long confinement on their personalities and art.
Apolka Erős: Femme Fatale I., 2020, composite, textil, leather, iron pedestal, 220x120x60 cm, photo: Apolka Erős
The developing paths of artistic creation offered interesting art psychological and creation sociological experiences during these three years, which underlines that the ongoing scholarship programme has yielded and will likely yield materials for sociological, psychological and philosophical research of artistic creation. Identified character traits include: dedication to art, love of creation, respect for values, curiosity, stubbornness and dedication to creating a joint aura. The last feature is especially interesting as this comes as unexpected help because this method functions as a basis of joint learning, self-development and the development of peers. Actually, the concept of “artistic further education” is non-existent and is completely absent from public discourse. This is surprising as the practice of artistic further education has been in operation since the 1960s in the field of non-official and non-state-dominated spheres of intellectual life. This is the way associations, art colonies and symposiums were formed and developed. By now, these initiatives have carved out a place for themselves and are supported by the Hungarian Academy of Arts: this intricate system now has the potential to become a systematised initiative through state support and funding.
Finally, the following must be highlighted: the exhibition entitled Departure currently showcased in Pesti Vigadó is not only a diverse, varied and high quality selection but also an exhibition that, on the one hand, presents a discourse between these mature and artistically fully-fledged artists and, on the other hand, offers an insight into their intensive and selfless attention towards one another’s work as well as their ensuing joint contemplation and mutual enrichment. This exhibition therefore also demonstrates a higher and wider intellectual horizon.
Curator of the exhibition: Kossuth Award winning sculptor and Member of the Presidium of the Hungarian Academy of Arts Professor Emeritus Ádám Farkas
Featured image – Péter Gálhidy: Situation
Organiser: Hungarian Academy of Arts
Please, visit the website of the Hungarian Academy of Arts for more information.