Gábor Karátson (1935–2015) painter, writer, philosopher, literary translator, arts teacher, passionate environmentalists, a member of the Danube Circle. An individual of considerable stature, his integrity was well known to his friends. His characteristic figure, is the hair tied back with a thin ribbon will be remembered by many; however, his artistic and literary work is only known to a few of his admirers. He was a master without pupils, although in many theoretical works he discussed the history, technical solutions, theory and practice of painting (Miért fest az ember? [Why does one paint], 1970; A festés mestersége [The art of painting], 1971; Hármaskép [Triple picture], 1970). Beginning with an analysis of the admired old masters, he presented the great examples of the 20th century from Grünewald and Leonardo to Paul Klee and Lajos Vajda, revealing exciting motivations of the artists, and the many layers behind colour and form. He translated into Hungarian two fundamental works of Chinese wisdom, Tao Te Ching (1990) and I Ching (2003), as well as seminal works of Bauhaus painter-teachers, such as Johannes Itten’s The Art of Colour (1978) and Paul Klee’s Pedagogical Sketchbook (1980).
His writings are not unlike his paintings, brimming with joy, colour and detail. He had been handed down a legacy in painting from his painter grandfather, Viktor Olgyai, who’s collection included, apart from his own works, oriental engravings, which determined Karátson’s interest in painting and oriental culture. As a member of the revolutionary committee of Budapest university, he was imprisoned after 1956, left with no chance to complete his university studies. Consequently, he was forced to teach himself painting. This exhibition presents the start of his career colour the photo-realistic perspective, his intimate pictures conceived the vein of in late-1950s Hungarian Surreal-Naturalist painting, including portraits, still lifes and landscapes. The period between 1968 and 1974 marked a turn in his style, also bringing new topics, with his interest turning to biblical and historical themes. Evocation of past history led him to creating his last painterly period (1975–1996), in which he created from a randomly selected press photograph first a sketch and then painting. Consequently, characters such as Pope Paul VI, Björn Borg, Mitterand, Cicciolina and other celebrities entered his art. He was also active as a graphic artist, creating numerous illustrations for the Bible, and for works by Goethe. This exhibition presents a series of 64 watercolours created for Parts I and II of Faust.
We hope this exhibition will bring into the limelight this versatile, colourful, liberal personality, an artist with integrity and a consistent oeuvre, whom it is never too late to discover.
Curators : Gábor Bellák and Marianna Mayer