Glasgow‘s Hungarian Arts season marks the ﬁrst large-scale exposure in Scotland ofcontemporary art from behind the iron curtain since Demarco, in his 19705 heyday, brought artists and their work from Romania. Yugoslavia and Poland to be the main visual arts feature in successive Edinburgh Festivals. It has, ofcourse, been increasingly obvious for some time that. after decades ofdepn'vation — not entirely unconnected with the annual Festival activity in Edinburgh — Clydeside is now energetically reasserting itself as the cultural centre ofgravity in Scotland for at least 49 weeks in every year.
Hungarian Arts In Glasgow, then, is just another gesture of confidence in that respect. Certainly Glasgow District Council is showing the only kind of confidence that matters by providing some of the financial wherewithal in spite of the present economic straits, and by awarding what is really a Festival of Hungary full civic status. The powerhouse, however, is Third Eye Centre and the prime mover all along has been its Director, Chris Carrell whose first visit to Hungary in 1980 triggered off a movement that has caught up almost every arts organisation in the city in its wake, attracting funding from local and central sources alike as well as from the authorities in Budapest.
Originally the thing was to be fairly straightforward — a major exhibition
of contemporary Hungarian art with some of the artists present in person. But the idea soon began to burgeon and develop — one almost said get out of hand, but no, never quite that — into something altogether more ambitious; a Festival of Hungarian Arts covering all but prohibitively costly full-scale drama. However, a Rimbaud double-bill is to be seen at the Tron Theatre, starring the young actor Lazlo Galffi, known here for his performance as mad King Ludwig in Tony Palmer's epic Wagner film. And the Hungarian Folk Ensemble of singers and dancers, predictably colourful and popular, will give one performance at the City Hall.
Music will feature prominently throughout the season with Hungarian composers represented on almost every programme. Most of the musicians involved. including the Budapest Wind Ensemble and the Budapest String Quartet will be visiting Glasgow for the first time. but Gustav Fenyo, soloist with the Ensemble in the Beethoven and Mozart quintets for piano and winds, has been based in Glasgow for some years. Gustav Fenyo is also billed to give a recital of works by Liszt. Bartok. Kodaly and the most eminent Hungarian composer ofour own time. Gyérgy Kurtag.
One recital, in the Burrell Gallery (now a very popular and, it must be said, an especially atmospheric venue for such events) will introduce us to that traditional Hungarian instrument, the cimbalom, at the hands of two virtuosi Marta Fabian and Agnes Szakaly. The same
Cordelia Oliver introduces Glasgow’s Hungarian Arts festival while Herbert Suslak celebrates the vitality of Hungarian culture today.
gallery will provide an unusual setting for the jazz recital by Aladar
Pege, the so-called ‘Paganini of the contrabass.‘ Nearer the centre of musical gravity. Gybrgy Pauk will play the Dvorak violin concerto with the SNO on the last night ofthe Festival. under the Hungarian conductor Peter Eros. in his first engagement with that orchestra.
It is well known that Hungary and film-making go hand in hand. Nobody. then, should be surprised to find that film makers. too. have a strong presence on the programme as planned. At the Glasgow Film Theatre, each week begins with a Monday programme of feature films; experimental and documentary films from the famous Be’la Balazs Studio will be seen in three programmes at the Third Eye Studio Theatre; and a selection of animated films from the Panonnia Film Studios will be shown at the same intimate venue. For the rest. there are lectures. poetry readings (notably the work of Attila Jézsef. read in translation by Glasgow‘s own Hungarian-speaking international poet, Edwin Morgan). gastronomic and wine-tasting events — the list goes on and on.
But the major exhibition which set the ball rolling in the first place remains the central core of the season, even though to experience the work ofall 18 selected participants will necessitate a tour of no fewer than 7 galleries throughout the city. including the School of Art and Glasgow Arts Centre. The work selected by Chris Carrell with art critic Paul Overy and Marta
Emout Sena": The Street
Kovalovszky ofthe King Stephen Museum, Szekesfehervar (in which the whole idea seems to have originated) is noticeably unaffected by the current cult ofbrash and outsize figurative imagery which has run wild across western Europe and into the Scottish art schools. The inner turmoils and stresses of life. no less pressing or painful. one would suppose. in Hungary than on Clydeside. are for me. more potently expressed through the controlled nervous intensity which makes the small ghetto drawings of Ilka Gedo so moving. and the implications of unwilling isolation so painful (you think. a little. ofGiacommetti) in the life-size sculptural installations of Erzse’bet Schaar.
Both these women artists, now dead, will be seen in retrospective exhibitions (Schaar at Third Eye. Gedo at the Compass Gallery) which. to judge by the photographic evidence. may well be among the highlights of the season. On the same evidence we can expect a great deal ofwit and satire and a kind of surreal, incisive elegance; in drawings like Andrés Bdrocz‘ three card players. impinging on the eye like a sharp sound in silence; in the eye-dazzling linear dexterity of J anos Szirtes‘ Russian Fighters; in the voluptuous, undulating forms of llona Keserii‘s reliefs and paintings; in the tree-spiralling. sky-searching sculptures of Ge’za Samu; and in the excitineg shattered imagery and sheer theatricality of El Kazovszkij‘s highly coloured installations.
Performance art in Hungary is not. as it is here. a thing apart. Painters
4 The List 4— 1 7 October