Béla Bán exhibition

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Dr. György Várkonyi

The deliberately undertaken objective of the present exhibition is to make an attempt at rehabilitating Béla Bán in the history of art. This is necessary since the oeuvre of Bán had a narrow escape from getting lost in the history of XX century Hungarian art because of different subjective reasons and objective circumstances.

After his emigration his works were preserved by his relatives but they had littIe publicity and the new pictures painted in France, Argentina and Israel remained mainly unknown the public and the profession. The recently renewed research of Hungarian art of the thirties and forties coincided with the resolution of Bán's descendants to present part of the legacy in their possession to present part of the legacy in their possession to Hungarian public collections, namely to the museums of Pécs and Szombathely.

Thus the present exhibition came into being. It tries to give an authentic reconstruction of the life-work, but the side-tracked products of the socialist-realist period are not on display. The survey of the entire life-work - the early works that left the country in 1956 and those of the emigration period - provides a lot of new information. Works believed to have been lost, missing links of composition-series belonging together and so far unknown groups of works have been found and light has been thrown on certain parallels and interrelationships with other Szentendre artists of the turn of the thirties and forties: Ámos, Margit Anna, Vajda. 

The art-critic has the impression that for Bán art is not so much a programme as vegetative need, or a way of life. Béla Bán was preoccupied with human figures usually in emotionally intense situations in the relation of suffering, struggle, passion and sexuality. His sweeping, strongly exaggerated style, constructed with expressive forms, was unfolded in these figures. Idyll, harmony and the Mediterranean ideal of beauty vanish or are overshadowed in his pictorial world. At the same time metamorphoses of tipicaIly bio-romantic inspiration often appear in it. 
Valuable conclusions may be drawn from the entire legacy conceming Béla Bán's meticulous working methods. 
In the last period /1957-1972/, after the sidetrack of the fifties, old forms, long proved to be true and sovereign, were revived again in new technical solutions. 
 

The résumé based on on an article by György Várkonyi, published in the catalogue issued on the occasion of  Memorial Exhibition of Béla Bán in 1988.

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