I was born in the Újpest district of Budapest in 1983. As a child I set out to become both an architect (at my mother’s urging) and a painter (my own innate tenency). So I ended up as a sculptor. I obtained my certificate of general education from the School of Visual and Applied Arts, as a student of József Somogyi. My mentors were Lajos Szentiványi and Dezső Bokros Birman. Due to my
participation in the uprising (see Corvin Fighters ‘56), my vocational training progressed along a less official, but to today’s observer very educational path: as a member of the Decorative Sculpture Studio of the Visual and Applied Arts Industrial Corporation I created large-scale building ceramics (Ybl Bazaar), restored the statues and ornamentation of listed buildings (Castle District, County Hall, Opera House, etc.), and carried out the full-scale reconstruction of public buildings and apartment blocks (so I have plenty of experience at clambering about on scaffolding). From 1964, as an employee of the Museums Central Directorate, in addition to organising archaeological and historical exhibitions, I was concerned with the reconstruction of our country’s monuments from the middle ages and the period of the Turkish occupation, assisted by the top monument architects, archaeologists and historians. Since 1968 I have been a member of the Young Artists’ Studio of the MNK Art Fund, and since 1984
the Association of Visual and Applied Artists, the Hungarian Sculptor Society, and the Pál Szinyei Merse Society. Between 1986 and 1996 I taught sculpture at the Kálmán Nádasdy School of Art, where a good many of my students went on to become professional artists. Following my first solo exhibition in 1967 I featured at several national exhibitions, and since my highly successful exhibition at the Stúdió Gallery I have displayed work at virtually every significant exhibition in Hungary (and several abroad).
Of my recent solo exhibitions, besides the one at the Vigadó (1999), the most interesting was the show entitled COMMON SPACE, COMMONPLACE, held at the Újpest Gallery in 2001, which mainly consisted of my designs for public sculptures that won tenders or were awarded a prize, but never implemented (see the article by Tibor Wehner, Új Művészet 2001/5 41). Refreshing exceptions, which, in terms of what they set out to achieve, can be linked with my present work: 1948 National Defence Monument in Nagytétény (1996), 1956 Memorial in the Tabán district of Budapest (1996-2001), and the 1956 Memorial in Süttő (2006). I have received awards from every major artistic body: Hungarian Institute for Culture and Art, Szinyei Merse Society, Ministry, Sculptor Society. My two most important awards of recent years were the MAOE Millennium Grand Prize (2000) and the Munkácsy Award (2003). This (customised) résumé – attached to my latest competition entry for the 300-square-metre facade of Corvinus University – refers to the fundamental contradiction between my congenital leaning towards monumentalism and my activities during the ‘56 uprising. Intellectually, perhaps what they have in common is a strong social commitment, but in practice they cancelled each other out
completely. The ‘56 Memorial Coin, the Cross of Merit for Defence of the Homeland, and the Fidelisszima, Golden Wreath etc. decorations may vindicate, but cannot compensate for the 40 years of exclusion during which the memorial sculpture that had grown from small sculpture continued to
flourish, while I filled the draws of desks with allegedly modern statue designs, adequate for the architecture of our day. Even if I’d been totally politically naive in ‘56, for me it would still have been worth holding a revolution just to destroy the Zhdanov aesthetic embodied by the statue of Stalin. So
after the barricade in Móricz Zsigmond Square, I withdrew behind an ideological barricade, proclaiming the primacy of form.
At that time I did not yet know that monumentality, although social, is not independent of those in power at any given time, the ones who act and judge in the name of this society. And it was from those powers-that-be, the Kádár regime, which later became increasingly flexible in formal matters, that I could not expect a substantial commission, and nor would I have been capable of fulfilling it in the desired manner. But nor was I totally acceptable to the shadow powers that were increasingly cast over us from the west, perhaps precisely because of my internal, nationalistic leanings inherited from ‘56. So all that remained was the hope that, by his own admission, was what kept (Hungary’s first post-communist head of government) József Antall going: that one day he would become prime minister of Hungary, the role for which he had been preparing all his life. It was with a more modest, but similarly utopian ambition that I busied myself with the change of political system (Hungarian Democratic Forum), stacking the ringside seats (executive bodies, boards, committees), in the hope
that finally, to quote Karinthy, the melody that had been pulsing for so long within me could finally ring out. So that I could give free reign to the monumental tendency that I had nurtured within myself for so long. It was also due to my civic activities that two of my large-scale works were inaugurated – in the same year – so late, in 1996. These were the 1948 national defence monument in Nagytétény on 15 March, and the 1956 monument in the Tabán district of Budapest on 23 October. Unfortunately, the latter was only partly realised, because the relief that constitutes an
integral part of it was only added years later due to the controversy that it provoked, making it a prime example of the gaping chasm between modernity and public taste, which was only deepened by the change of regime.