The secret | The grotesque and monochrome paintings of Miklós Jakobovits

One Time | Separate ways and withdrawal at a time of consolidation

The secret | Grotesque and monochrome paintings by Miklós Jakobovits

Miklós Jakobovits (1936–2012), Romanian-born Hungarian painter of Armenian stock, was an outstanding artist in his native West Transylvania. Born in Cluj and raised in Sfântu Gheorghe, he attended school in Târgu Mureș and Cluj, following which he became established in Oradea, where he found and inspiring creative and professional environment, and met his loving wife and creative partner, ceramic artist Márta Jakobovits. A prolific painter with a substantial oeuvre, he also put great effort into preserving cultural values. One of the key players on the Transylvanian Hungarian cultural scene, he was active as an artistic organiser, restorer and art writer. He sought to acquaint art critics in Hungary with much-neglected Transylvanian art and to draw their attention to its values. With a characteristic Transylvanist attitude, he considered artworks in the context of the community of Transylvanian peoples, whether Armenian, Hungarian, Romanian, Jewish or Saxon minority, and quality was his only priority.

Living under a totalitarian regime will test, on a daily basis, any uncompromising person yearning for freedom and deeply intolerant of lies and hypocrisy. Nevertheless, it was everyday life that led Jakobovits to establish for himself “the notion of the normal and the abnormal in people who were biologically sick, too,” in the Târnăveni lunatic asylum, a characteristic yellow building, where he saw no trace of the “deliberate duality and treachery that developed in the minds of healthy people” in the outside world. The world in which he lived had become absurd, which was why he elected, drawing on his experience in the lunatic asylum, a grotesque attitude, creating sarcastic grotesque character portraits in his first major painterly period. In silent rebellion, he created his paintings caricaturing the dictator (First among first, 1975; Diplomats, 1973), while also secretly writing articles for his book Néró papírmaséból [Nero from papier-mâché]. His painting took a turn in style after seeing in the museums of the world the chefs-d’oeuvre of his favourite masters: Velázquez, Picasso, Miró, Tapiès, Chillida, Burry, Morandi set his imagination on fire, confirming his belief that in painting “the radiation of colour was more important than the narrative.” From that time onward, in addition to creating graphic, sculptural and ceramic works he chiefly experimented with the materials of painting. He prolifically produced monochrome, relief-like works. He introduced to the canvas materials alien to painting and stretched the boundaries of the art by attaching papier-mâché casts of car doors and windscreens, and by means of oxidation. In the last period of his life he gave one of his rust-pictures the Spanish title Duende, a word that defies translation, which to him meant that which cannot be comprehended by the mind, and which only obeyed the intuitions of the soul and the world of instincts. His works feature imprints of cultures, creative freedom and the artist’s joy. He reduced his painting to colours, materials and symbols and conveyed the immaterial by means of material. His last works remain unfinished, with time working away on them: the processes of oxidation cannot be halted.

This exhibition highlights two trends in the oeuvre, represented by some 120 works: the grotesque, reflective of Romania's dictatorship, which Jakobovits began in the early 1970s, and some of the monochrome panels and ceramic works that he produced throughout his entire life, but mainly from the 1980s onwards.

Curator : László Ujvárossy 



2017. December 6. - 2018. January 28.

Kunsthalle, Budapest

2017. November 10. - 2018. January 14.
Previous exhibition

MEMORIAL | Toldi Photo Gallery, 1981

2017. December 6. - 2018. January 28.
Next exhibition

ONE-TIME | Separate ways and withdrawal at a time of consolidation