Remembering the oeuvre of Richárd Török sculptor

Opening at 5 pm on Thursday 18 January 2018

Speeches will be given by

György Szegő, artistic director of the Műcsarnok
and Balázs Tóth, mayor of Vasvár

The exhibition will be opened by

Ádám Farkas, Kossuth prize and Munkácsy award winning sculptor, member of the praesidium of the Hungarian Academy of Arts


The sculpture of Richárd Török occupies a unique position in Hungarian art. A completed and timeless oeuvre, consistently built up in a period replete with divergent conflicts in both cultural policy and in an ideological sense. Richárd Török was a man from a transparent and passable realm. Each of his works excited his imagination in its own completeness, depth and complexity. His sculptures of our poets, writers and personalities who shaped and enriched Hungarian as well as universal culture and history are exquisitely subtle in their plasticity, with their evocative power being truly captivating. His bust cast in bronze of Béla Bartók, displayed at the Barbican cultural centre in London in 1985, is distinguished by ennobled surfaces and an appearance exuding augustness, standing as a sculptural equivalent of Bartók’s idea of drawing from “pure springs”.

Török’s statue of King Matthias (1988) in Visegrád portrays a ruler commanding respect, showing a mighty yet weary man. His statues of Kossuth and Széchenyi, both in the Hungarian UN Palace in New York, appeal to the beholder through their powerful rendition. Our exhibition now affords visitors the opportunity to compare the features of the brilliant politician in his prime inspired by a European value system and those of “the greatest Hungarian” who spent time in a mental

Török encapsulated everything he respected and held to be of value in the figure of Saint Stephen. He regarded Hungary’s first king as the greatest paragon, and for him King Stephen’s work and the ideals he realised were the chief moral absolute. Most of the depictions of our state’s founder follow the conservative public taste of the time, striving as they do to accord with it, while shot through with heroism and dignity. At the same time, Török did not subject his sculptures to general taste but rather placed them before it. Hence, he arrived at an autonomous representation of the first king and saint in Hungarian history.

The bronze memorial to World War II erected in Györköny is a memento carrying cathartic power. The mutilated arm moulded in the shape of a cross, the unshaven face tortured to extremes and the closed eyes of the dead soldier create a taciturn, shocking experience. Wrapped in linen cloth, he is reminiscent of Christ’s suffering. In this piece – one of the most candid examples of Hungarian World War II memorials – one cannot observe the pathos generally applied in the depiction of heroes and the fallen.

Török’s last work was the Unfinished Madonna (1992), in which the mother’s suffering is ennobled into the peace of acceptance and her very being is pervaded with pain. She holds her child with arms that have fallen listlessly to her lap. This is what and how one sees it at first glance. Thanks to the composition’s sculptural strength we can fully experience the Pietà, even though Richárd Török was unable to finish the child. He departed from this life unexpectedly in January 1993. His parents resolutely kept trying to find a place for his works for over ten years. They believed that through having the sculptures published they would find a place for them worthy of their son’s art. In the end, the town of Vasvár undertook the honourable task of preserving and displaying them in a memorial museum.

Katalin Benedek

curators: Katalin Bendek and Marianna Mayer

2018. January 19. - February 18.
2017. December 6. - 2018. January 28.
Previous exhibition

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

2018. February 16. - March 18.
Next exhibition

Nine Ateliers | Bullás