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Szilárdi Béla - Hommage á Beuys, 1989.jpg

Béla Szilárdi - Oh Herz / Pictures from the 80s


„Die mathematischen Kompositionsschemata der Musik“, erklärt er, „sind mir beim Malen zugleich Ansporn und Widerpart. Malend kann ich mich über die Strenge der Harmonie hinwegsetzen und gleichzeitig profitiere ich von ihrer abstrakten Logik.“

I have been following Szilárdi's work for decades, you could say. As outsiders, Vas County has drawn us in. We admire the landscape, the almost non-Hungarian orderliness of settlements, the Alpine air and the weather difference that can be expressed in the temperature there compared to the capital or Transdanubia. These are more than superficial details, they enrich the life of an enthusiastic hiker. I feel a sense of contemplation when I’m in the valley of Kemenes or in Zsennye, as if the landscape and the world there provoke thought. Of course, this is a very personal approach, and I certainly wouldn't want to put Béla Szilárdi into this box. It only came up because after decades of a very successful urban life, he settled there and was able to develop and build on his successes and achievements in painting in Bavaria, even if he wasn’t immediately crowned with recognition for his work. But who cares about the latter?

Béla Szilárdi came from a musical background, earned his living through photography, mainly object and reportage photography, alongside painting, which eventually became a defining genre in his work. Interestingly enough. Then, after nearly two decades, came writing, contemplation and the personal projection of intellectual philosophy emerged, in parallel with his matured painting career.

Back to the 1980s: Szilárdi talks about the mechanics of painting, saying that "the mathematical compositional schemes of music serve as both inspiration and fascination for me while painting. I must overcome the strict order of harmony, transcend it, and at the same time, benefit from its abstract logic". The then-popular new avant-garde trends, with their complete denial of pure pictorial systems, become obvious choices to Szilárdi, the transposition of expressive colour orgies onto canvas with the same verve allowing for some symbolism, a radical conglomeration of spiritual levels that give the essence of the system.

Jumping ahead in time - because these foundations, gained back then, remain today, even if they seek new surfaces through countless detours. One of his most impressive groups of works is the series inspired by Nietzsche. What is transferred and reworked from the master takes on very personal emphases, parallels with the basic themes of Nietzsche, or rather revives the appropriation of the narrative. Perhaps the symbolists dared to touch Nietzsche at all, also in the form of parallel interpretations, but in reality, the gesture of the storyteller remained in the foreground, I am thinking of Hans von Marées, approximate contemporaries, Marées an idealist, Nietzsche a nihilist as the drawer system likes to categorize them, Szilárdi broke out, and his works dedicated to Zarathustra are a complete volcanic transcription of any kind of system. For Nietzsche as well, and for the Zarathustrian school of thought.

The works in the present exhibition were created between 1988 and 1998. Reminiscences of Beuys.

In 1988, the analysis of Beuys was presented as a strategy of image and counter-image in Szilárd's work. Beuys denies and eradicates the entire visual world of modernism, as he can communicate more through human action than the romantic idyll that was outdated for the 20th century, without taking a position. He is blasphemy itself, and with his complete radicalism he unleashes forces that demonstrate the possibility of a new clarity about the tangibility of existence in the universe. Szilárdi adopts Beuys' symbolic signs for his painting. He captures, like a photographer, small elements, emblematic figurative compositions that become the central message of his paintings, almost like painterly notes to the Beuys oeuvre. They are not illustrations, but translations towards a new interpretation. The series made between 1988 and 1998 is Szilárdi's reminiscence of the work of the great modernism denier. Once again, we are back to the question, as with the Nietzsche pictures made later, of how free are we to reassign something to a position that denies or rejects that position. This is only possible with the freedom with which Béla Szilárdi creates. Everything is possible as long as the necessary energies are capable of generating valid work. Szilárdi achieves this with his own personal impulse and visual creative logic.

Congratulations on these works, they are beautiful and very good continuations of previous initiatives.


Opening speech by Julia Fabényi, Director of Ludwig Museum

Translated by: Viktória Popper

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