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Following many word-of-mouth recommendations, I decided to spend the long May weekend in Budapest. It’s a city of great traditions, which cultivates its art history day in, day out; and invites you to marvel at its skyline while strolling down the Danube bank with a cup of coffee. To escape the sweltering heat, you can walk along the streets in the long shadows cast by blooming trees. Around each corner, you can stumble on yet another delightful tenement house.

Exhibitions held at the Polish Institute in Budapest were an absolute must, and so my immediate priority was to visit this institution. Upon arriving, I was welcomed and kindly received by Tomasz Piars, the curator who guided me through the expositions while elaborating on the Institute’s activities.

Current exhibitions at the Polish Institute include: “The word may lie- but not the eye. Modernity in Polish photography 1918-1939” and “RE-VIVAL. Contemporary art from Poland and Hungary.”

“The word may lie- but not the eye” is a title of the exhibition that embraces the beginnings of the Polish avant-garde in the interwar period as artists were striving to capture the dawn of a new era with the use of photography and film as they considered these media accurate for the depiction of reality. Teeming life of a big city, industrialisation and omnipresent factory work were among the favourite subjects of the avant-garde artists of the period. Photographs celebrating modernity shaped the perception of reality through their unorthodox means of expression, such as ingenious framing, composition, texture, form and lighting. The exhibition features works by some of the greatest avant-garde artists: Stefan Themerson, Kazimierz Podsadecki and Stefan Jasieński. Additionally, a highly-recommended film by Witold Romer entitled “Woda” (“Water”), screened as part of the Budapest exhibition, was shot underwater by the director who invented his own camera.

The “RE-VIVAL” exhibition juxtaposed contemporary art from Poland and Hungary. In their works, Polish artists – Paweł Baśnik, Łukasz Huculak, Anna Kołodziejczyk, Dy Tagowska and Kamil Moskowczenko – draw parallels between the cultural and religious symbolism. Their artworks are complemented by two sculptures made by two artists from Hungary, Áron Majoros and Ervin Békesi.

My weekend in Budapest came to a close in a blink of an eye. Yes, I was utterly mesmerised by this city and wished I could’ve stayed longer. No, it definitely wasn’t my last visit.

 

Written by Anna Dziuba

Translated by Karolina Jasińska

Edited by Contemporary Lynx

 

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