The Journey: János Fajó and the Pesti Workshop


2024-04-12

Time: 5 March - 21 March, 2024

Location: Gallery 2

The representative selection of paintings by the founder artists of Pesti Workshop from the collection of the Central Bank of Hungary helps the audience identify the characteristics of Hungarian abstraction. The professional journey of these six contemporaries spanning decades formed the basis of contemporary Hungarian art, and their work continues to have a great influence on Hungarian art today: they have undoubtedly became the defi ning fi gures of the Hungarian art canon. The outstanding artworks alongside the silkscreen prints help to understand the complexity of the creative process of creating and
the relationship between painting and silkscreen printing.
The silkscreen print is att ributed to the Chinese, who used the printing ink technique to create images of Buddha as early as 960 AD, at the beginning of the Song Dynasty. Screen printing only arrived in Western Europe in the 18th century. European traders brought the method and materials with them in the Silk Road trade. In France, artists began to use frame-stretched silk-screen prints to print their designs on fabric. The technique also became increasingly popular during the Industrial Revolution. Factories mass-produced wallpaper and fabrics using this mass production technique.
By the end of the 1950s more and more Hungarian artists reached Western Europe, where they could gain personal experience
of current developments in contemporary art, including screen printing. In 1965, during Imre Bak and István Nádler’s second European tour, they gained knowledge of the new technique as assistants in a very famous screen studio in Stutt gart, The Domberger. The concept of screen printing was closely linked to new trends, so prominent representatives of offi cial art observe the ever-increasing interest expressed in it with considerable distrust.
“Artistic serigraph printing was introduced in Hungary in 1968 by us, the members of the later Pesti Műhely. (...) Already in our fi rst folder, we sensed and guessed the vital importance and possibility of graphic reproduction in many ways (...) Colour reproduction was also vital for us from a social point of view (...) because those prints contributed to the development of our personality, as from behind the Iron Curtain form and colour palett e and dissolved our artifi cial isolation, they gave the world news about ourselves at the graphics biennale.”
(János Fajó)
In the early seventies, Fajó founded the Pesti Workshop with fi ve of his contemporaries: Imre Bak, István Nádler, Tamás Hencze, András Mengyán and Ilona Keserü. Their intellectual connection, the common thinking in the spirit of 20th century modernism, the abstract art form they cultivated made the Pesti Műhely an inescapable formation that existed in its original form and functioned successfully for almost a decade.
The naively heroic desire to extend art to applied art on a community basis, the need to spread missing art information, but even more so a small group of enthusiastic artists who wanted to spread the word about themselves organized into a community and called the Pesti Műhely to life. Their aim was to answer professional, contemporary artistic and social questions.
It was a silkscreen studio primarily, in which they functioned as a creative group and also as a publishing house. In addition to the publishing activities, they used the studio as an opportunity to showcase their screen prints at important international graphic biennials.