The Secrets of a Fairytale World

An exhibition of sketches and drawings by graphic artist Tamás Köves, with the title of “Mein Stejtl (My Shtetl) – The Secrets of a Fairytale World”, will be opening on 14 September 2010 at the Hungarian Jewish Museum of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (MAZSIHISZ). The exhibition is on view till 7 October.

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Fable and playfulness, joy of life and merriment – this is the Jewish world of the shtetl in the art of Tamás Köves. Chagall also regales us with fabulous tales and dreams of the shtetl, of the small towns and villages of Jews in Eastern Europe, but again and again his pictures are also suffused with melancholy and sadness, his sense of loss over the passing of that world. The Jewish microcosm of Tamás Köves, on the other hand, deliberately breaks away from such sadness and refuses to be nostalgic. Befitting of the shtetls of the story-books, his figures are merry and full of life, bearing witness to just how good it is to be alive, and to live as a Jew. The artist captures the beauty, happiness and intimacy of Jewish holidays and of everyday Jewish life, and ultimately what his art communicates is that it is the joy of life welling up from within the Jew that beautifies life and imparts beauty to Jewish holidays and everydays alike, transforming thereby into a liveable, endurable fable a reality that might otherwise seem grey at times. But the main point of the artist is the centrality of playfulness in what makes us human, for it is the propensity for playfulness that drives the dynamics of the human spirit, just as that very dynamics in turn engenders playfulness, and it is this duality that enables us to give expression to joy, as well as to all of our other emotions.