Picto/graphy: Calligraphies, Signs, Gestures and Letter Images

Abu Dhabi, Al Bateen Area – Behind Al Bateen Mall – Villa 15 Al Huwelat St – Al Bateen – Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates
15 Nov 2022, 18:00 – 04 Dec 2022, 21:00

The art exhibition held from 15 November to 4 December, 2022 in Abu Dhabi will be examining the connection between writing and image in Hungarian contemporary painting, titled Picto/graphy: Calligraphies, Signs, Gestures and Letter Images. The exhibition presents twelve prominent Hungarian artists who are well-known and recognized on the Hungarian and international art scene. Many of them are leading figures of the Hungarian neo avant-garde (1960s and 70s), including artists who lived abroad (in France, Germany or Asia) and who are, associated with Simon Hantaï’s surrealist-calligraphic painting, the pieces which were the closure material of the Louvre Abu-Dhabi. The exhibition is organized by MNB Arts and Culture, the cultural branch of the Central Bank of Hungary (Magyar Nemzeti Bank, MNB).

The artworks of the exhibition build on the abstract tendencies of modern art, the different writing traditions of great cultures and the need to express a sense of being. Their pictorial values link the personal and the universal; new ways of creating spatiality (sometimes from geometric-constructive systems, which have a strong tradition in Hungarian modern art, sometimes from painterly gestures – nowadays also created on computers – or from translucent layers of paint, sometimes by tracing or in relief, exploring seriality); the regaining of spirituality on the basis of archaic writing. All this also confirms the credibility of painting. Visitors of the exhibition can find parallels between these and local art, or discover the peculiarities of Hungary (the ancient embellishments of folk art, the link with poetry and music).

The importance of calligraphy in Islamic culture is well-known, it is not only an artistic achievement but also a source of inspiration: a visible expression of the spiritual world, Anna Bagyó, advisor to the MNB Arts and Culture and coordinator of the project, suggested Writing as a possible theme for the exhibition. Joining her, Katalin Keserü, art historian, professor emeritus, former curator of the collection and curator of the exhibition (after two smaller Picto/graphy exhibitions in Delhi and Cairo) selected the material from the collection of the Central Bank of Hungary.

Animated films

The theme of the exhibition is extended by a selection of award-winning Hungarian animated films, most of which have been screened at prestigious international festivals. Thanks to the collaboration of five renowned animation studios (Boddah, Kecskemétfilm, KEDD and the former Pannónia), the films selected by Anna Ida Orosz and Márton Orosz will be presented in two sections (14 films for children and 32 films for adults). The toolkit of animated films with tiny gestures, signs, stylized figures and metaphors that illuminate the relationship of associations between images, gives room to both philosophical and narrative stories. The 100-part „Hungarian Folk Tales” series, produced in Kecskemétfilm Studio – the most important Hungarian animation studio of today, which is also involved in international co-productions – was launched by Marcell Jankovics. He previously worked with Gyula Macskássy, considered the father of Hungarian animation, and Oscar-winning director Ferenc Rófusz at the Pannónia Film Studio in Budapest, the most prominent centre of the golden age of Central European animation in the 1970s and 1980s.

Full list of artists:

Aatoth Franyo (1954), Imre Bak (1939-2022), Attila Csáji (1939), Krisztián Frey (1929-1997), Tamás Hencze (1938-2018), Ilona Keserü Ilona (1933), Tamás Konok (1930-2020), Dezső Korniss (1908-1984), László Lakner (1936), Kamill Major (1948), András Mengyán (1945), István Nádler (1938)

(Picture above: ↑ Dezső Korniss, White-black Calligraphy, 1959, enamel paint on fibreboard, 30×40.5 cm, Courtesy of MNB Arts and Culture)