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Bálint Szombathy

Bálint Szombathy (born in Pacir, Vojvodina, Serbia, 1950)
Lives and works in Budapest, Hungary.

Bálint Szombathy, a conceptual artist born in Vojvodina in the former Yugoslavia (1950), is one of the key names of the former Yugoslav as well as Hungarian art. His practice included a wide range of artistic activities, from visual poetry, processual art, land art and performance, to conceptual art. Quite early on, he drew attention to his performative projects, such as The Trails (Subotica, 1970), or the photo performance Bauhaus (Novi Sad, 1971), while becoming particularly renowned for addressing the topic of socialist reality in projects such as Lenin in Budapest (1972), when after the end of the May Day celebrations, he provocatively carried Lenin’s portrait along the streets of the Hungarian capital. In 1969, he and Slavko Matković founded the Bosch + Bosch group, which represented a platform of neo-avant-garde artists from Vojvodina, Serbia, and Hungary. The group played a significant role in connecting with related movements and artists across Europe, particularly with its access to relevant information from the Western world.

Szombathy has been dealing with photography in a specific and authentic way since the late 1960s. In the first place, he photographically documented his performances and conceptual projects, such as the Flags project from 1971 or the project 36 Fixatives from 1973. While working as a graphic editor and designer at the daily newspaper Magyar Szó, he became interested in the anomalies that occurred in the telegraphic mode of transferring photographs. In this regard, he began to develop “telephotographs”, black and white photographic works including interventions into the basic photograph, repetitive patterns, and micro structures, which may resemble the techniques of collage or montage and were presented in the exhibition projects Telephotography of the 1980s and Suprematists. Most of the projects and works that have been created as a result of Szombathy’s interest in the photographic medium in the 1970s were presented in the Photoworks 1971−1981 exhibition at the Vintage Gallery in Budapest in 2010.

 

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

2018
REZ / CUT, MSU – Museum of contemporary Art, Zagreb, Croatia
Signs of the City, Vladimir Bužančić Gallery, Zagreb, Croatia
Left Performance Histories, Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst(NGBK), Berlin, Germany

2017
Photosuprematists, Balassi Institut, Brussels, Belgium
With the Eyes of Others: Hungarian Artists of the Sixties and Seventies, Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York, USA
Non-Aligned Modernity, Ludwig Museum, Budapest, Hungary

2016
Non-Aligned Modernity, FM Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea, Milano, Italy
Photosuprematist,Photon Galerija, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Poetics and Politics. Artistic Strategies in the Hungarian Neo-Avantgarde, Espaivisor, Valencia, Spain
We Were Heroes, acb Gallery, Budapest, Hungary

2015
Photosuprematists, Hungarian Cultural Institute, Stuttgart, Germany
Last Year’s Snow: The Hungarian Neo-Avant-Garde In The 1970s & 80s, Austin/Desmond Fine Art, London, United Kingdom
Gorgona Then and Now & Artist On Vacation, MSU – Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
Photosuprematists, Njizni Novgorod, Russia
Photosuprematists, Photon Gallery, Vienna, Austria
We Were Heroes, KC Belgrad, Galllery Podroom, Belgrad, Serbia
Art Has No Alternative (An Archive of Artists in Action), tranzit.sk, Bratislava, Slovakia

2014
Anarchy.Utopia.Revolution, Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art – Budapest, Hungary
RUBBERSTAMPS, acb Attachement, Budapest, Hungary
PERSONAL (HI-)STORIES, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia
Photosuprematists, Robert capa Contemporary photography center, Budapest, Hungary
Private Nationalism, Kunsthalle Košice, Slovakia

2013
Telephotography of the 1980s, P74 Gallery, Ljubljana

2012
Erlin Gallery, Budapest
What Is Hungarian? – Mucsarnok Kunsthalle, Budapest

2011
Motion-Pictures, Hungarian House of  Photography, Budapest

2010
Photoworks 1971-1981, Vintage Gallery, Budapest
U3 – 6th Triennial of Contemporary Art in Slovenia: An Idea for Living. Realism and Reality in Contemporary Art in Slovenia – Triennial of Contemporary  Slovenian Art, Moderna galerija, Ljubljana
Unmistakable Sentences, The Collection Revisited , Ludwig Museum, Budapest
Art Always Has Its Consequences, ms-Muzeum Sztuki Lodz, Lodz
Les Promesses du passé, Centre Pompidou – Musée National d´Art Moderne, Paris

2009
Fleuves, cneai =, Chatou (Paris), France
Fleuves, Gandy Gallery, Bratislava
On Normality. Kunst aus Serbien 1989-2001, Museum Moderner Kunst Kärnten, Klagenfurt

2008
Muzej u senci, Museum Of Contemporary Art Vojvodina, Novi Sad, Serbia
49th October Salon, Oktobarski Salon / October Salon, Belgrade, Serbia
As soon as I open my eyes I see a film, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw

2007
GPS, Unknown Scene, Ernst Museum Budapest, Budapest

2006
Videozone 3, Videozone – International Video-Art Biennial, Tel Aviv
Common Space – Ernst Museum Budapest, Budapest
Continental Breakfast – MEMORY (W)HOLE – Museum of Contemporary Art Skopje, Skopje
Wired Banks – in transit – Kiscelli Múzeum – Fövárosi Képtár / Municipal Picture Gallery, Budapest
Remek dela savremene srpske umetnosti od 1968 – Museum Of Contemporary Art Vojvodina, Novi Sad

2005
On Normality. Art in Serbia 1989-2001 – Muzej savremene umetnosti Beograd, Belgrade
East Art Museum – Karl-Ernst-Osthaus-Museum, Hagen

2001
The Real, the Desperate, the Absolute – Forum Stadtpark, Graz
Body and the East – Exit Art, New York City, NY

2000
After the Wall, Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art Budapest, Hungary
After the Wall, Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin

1999
After the Wall, Art and culture in post-Communist Europe, Moderna Museet, Stockholm

 

PRIZES

Ludwig Kassák Prize, Paris, France, 1989

Forum Art Prize, Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, 1993

Sava Šumanović Prize, Novi Sad, Serbia, 2007

Mihály Munkácsy Award, Budapest, Hungary, 2008

Vladislav Ribnikar Prize for the best exhibition in Serbia in 2014, Belgrade, 2015

Knight’s Cross – Hungary’s national award for merit, Budapest, 2018

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Gržinić, Marina: Encountering the Balkan. The Radicalization of Positioning. In: Art in Europe 1990–2000, Gianfranco Maraniello ed., Skira Editore, Milano, 2002

Šuvaković, Miško: Art as a Political Machine: Fragments on the Late Socialist and Postsocialist Art of Mitteleuropa and the Balkans. In: Postmodernism and the Postsocialist Condition – Politicized Art Under Late Socialism. University of California Press, Berkeley–Los Angeles–London, 2003

Djurić, Dubravka – Šuvaković, Miško ed.: Impossible Histories – Historical Avant-gardes, Neo-avant-gardes, and Post-avant-gardes in Yugoslavia, 1918-1991. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge-London, 2003

Milenković, Nebojša: An Aesthetics of Freedom or Politics of Freedom (A Guide Through the Art of Bálint Szombathy 1969–2005). In: szombathy art. Monograph. Museum of Contemporary Art, Novi Sad, 2005

Šuvaković, Miško: Performing of Politics of Art – Transitional Fluxes of Conflict (Tactics of Political de-centering of Bálint Szombathy). Ibid.