Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hungary's Szentendre fires engines of central European contemporary art

Szentendre, Hungary 2 July 2011

Twenty-seven of Hungary's aspiring contemporary artists open a show 8 July in Szentendre, Hungary at Erdesz Galeria & Design.

It closes 21 August.

Laszlo Erdesz, owner of Erdesz Galeria & Design
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011
All 27 live in this central European quiet town of about 24,000 on the northern edge of Budapest, for centuries known for its cultural dynamism.

"Most of Hungary's best artists come out of Szentenre," said internationally recognized fine art photographer Zoltan Hajtmanszki, who also lives here.

Exhibiting artists at the show called, "[Kortarsba? (Zarva)]":  

Emese Altnoder, Balazs Antal, Balazs Benkovits, Marci Belai, Roland Biro, Mate Csato, Tamas Dobos, Istvan Ef. Zambo, Laszlo Felugossy, Judit Fischer, Gabor Kasza, Havadtoy Sam, Emese Alexandra Lazar, Mark Martinko, Ildiko Mohacsi, Laslo Otto, Rudolf Pacsika, Eszter Poroszlai, Istvan Regos, Claudia Tamasi, Hajnalka Tarr, Laszlo Taubert, Gyorgy Toth, Janos Vachter, Otto Vincze, Zsuzsanna Vinkler and Andras Wahorn.

(I will be there covering the opening and show, meeting and talking with the artists.)

Hajtmanski stressed Budapest and Szentendre experienced a cultural explosion and avant-garde resurgence in the 1980's.

Zoltan Hajtmanski Photo by Stefan van Drake (2011)
The Soviet controlled government wore two faces, like the Hungarians, one looking out, another in; one face for public consumption, another for the Self.

Don't mess with politics and you are free to explore and produce art and cultural happenings. 

Ironically, the state financed young contemporary artists, exhibitions, strongly supporting all organs of Hungarian culture.

In the darkest of times, Hungarian artists and poets fomented changes making it the most liberal country of the Soviet bloc.

The bloody 1956 Budapest failed revolution against the Russians bought cultural freedom and other liberalizations with lives of its Magyar martyrs.

"People were free to do almost what they wanted in art and culture, and we did.

"I believe this Hungarian velvet cultural revolution in the 1980's had much to do with the eventual breakup of the Soviet bloc," said Hajtmanszki, age 49.

"Cannot Blow Out" Photograph by Zoltan Hajtmanszki (Budapest)

ArtTraveler's first visual impressions of Szentendre

"Welcome to my Town" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Magyar Marching" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Don't Mess with the Underground" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Silent Sentinel" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Szentendre: Art, galleries & museums Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Jewish Cemetery, Szentendre Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Szentendre along the Danube Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Pope Paul II in Szentendre Photograph by Stefan van Drake

The Hungarian Trabant, found art on four wheels: Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Csizmadi Balasz: acrylic on metal, show at Folt Cafe, Szentendre (2011)

Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™


After more than two weeks living at the 3.5-star Hotel Queen Mary in the center of Budapest's 7th District (Jewish Quarter), I heartily recommend it: old on the outside, otherwise totally modern; it's an extremely excellent value. (I'm not getting a discount for's my idea because it is what it is.)

The owner and staff are affable and speak English and German. Tel: 0036-1-413-3510;;

There's a generous buffet breakfast that comes with the room, and everything in Budapest is close to you.

Visit Andalusia for a walking holiday or week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop. See: and

"Spanish life stilled," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)

ArtTraveler´s video: an interview with Scottish illustrator and painter, Gordon Wilson, about his new "I Love Fish" exhibition, inspired by a commissioned mural he did 12 years ago for a West Glasgow gangster, who loved supporting writers and artists as well as organized crime.

You may reach me at or by calling (34) 915 067 703 or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349


Need your help. New conservative government in my village of Canillas de Albaida has started pogrom, a genocide against any cats or dogs found on the streets, which is illegal in Malaga Province. 

These neo-Fascists must be stopped; please send brief protest e-mail to to the attention of the Alcalde (mayor). 

It really is a matter of life and death. Thank you!!

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