Hungarian House of Photography
Earlier Exhibitions

Other Location

Budapest from Bartók to Banksy

Curator: Gabriella Csizek

Open to the public:
May 15-19, 2014
XX. Prague International Book Fair

This exhibition is a selection of images, embracing a series of suprises, from a guide book of Budapest, which has - at least so far - only been published once. Following the subjective map of the city made up of photographs, we can get from “the little mole’s” red car to the sign that, while pointing to the sky, continues to signal one-way traffic even in this out-of-balance world.

The correlations between details of the city captured from unusual points of view show a living space full of signs and meanings. In these photographs, the city is neither beautiful, nor ugly but it is itself. Bearing traces of human presence, it is a place where people on the hurry live in peaceful coexistence with the city’s hidden signal system, such as the elf with the green face.

On the one hand, this special photography collection incorporates images born out of framing the juxtaposition of the casual; on the other hand, it encompasses messages from unknown senders left in public spaces for the other, for others. It is embraced by the poetics of city life, combined with those five steps on the road that lead nowhere to the colorful airships floating above the sky and clouds of the huge firewall.

Some sights might be familiar, some we may never find as they were intermittent installations and constellations of then and there. Or we may find some that we can look for during our known and not yet traveled journeys.

Gabriella Csizek, curator of the exhibition

For many of those who live in Budapest the city itself is not important. Living in it is too fast, too difficult and too passionate so that they would have time to deal with the stage settings of their wild everyday lives, notice its details, contemplate on its colours, or meditate in its stunning elements, so they could get their own pearls out of it.

But this is the same with people living in other huge cites too, what more, we could say, that it is very rare to find persons, who seriously and profoundly examine the decorations, beauties of the body of their city. And usually it is not a young person who contemplates, but one with a very young heart, that is curious and flaming to see and find the uncountable details that show the clash and mutual fertilisation of the old and new things.

György Czabán is an extremely strange and interesting man. Directing a film at one time, organising a free-jazz concert at the other, then making radio programs, arguing, thinking, being in a fret, feeling very lucky all the time due to the fact that he can enjoy being in the cultural whirlpool of the city. And of course almost always he takes pictures of musicians, gigs, artists, exhibitions, animals, plants, buildings, ships, in effect, of everything.

Still the most interesting and important direction of his photographic activity is the one that records the most authentic and special scenes of urban spaces. Hydrants, sculpture details, abandoned houses, cardboard figures, ruined stairs, people, dolls, and the most different objects forgotten on the scene that make up the very special character of a city with unique freshness, punctuality and depth. Be it New York, Hong Kong, Bucharest or Vienna, the cities revive on the photos by Czabán and talk loud, so you can hear noisy jazz or some strange ambient music at one moment, then forgotten classical music played from a phonograph or a merrily scratched ethno-pop at the other.

His series of photographs presenting Budapest is my favourite, since the old historic city places, moods, devastations and funny scenes mingle with the present day’s speed, simplicity, sloppiness, colours and power on them. A Jesus-statue embraces an armed soldier, huge female lips stand forgotten on the top of a building, ruined stairs show the nice wrinkles of centuries, and people constantly on the move try to make their homes on the bleak and find themselves finally in Paradise at their small and ruined bars, cafés, and pubs.

The civil tradition, the spas, the temples, the public sculptures, the nice streets, the cobbled pavements quote the past that embraces the graffiti, the scratches , the mistakes, the forgotten pieces of concrete and paint, tiles and any kind of junk of the present through Czabán’s lens of untouched originality.

Like if the collected and found music fragments of Bartók would mix within the frames of a huge jam session with the graffiti, drawings, signs, etchies by Banksy in an elevating and funny, yet at the same critical visual language using strong metaphors.

Because György Czabán is just like that. A true big adventurer, a real great traveller, who looks through the glasses of tradition seeking always for something new that he finds and discovers frequently, to pick it up and show it to us, to pick it up and save it for the time to come.

His uniquely colourful, exciting and easy series of Budapest proves the wit, playfulness and profound experience of a Buddha on one hand, and an always unpredictable, experimenting and stunning unknown guide’s first class diary on the other.

Please set off for your exploration!

dr Máriás


He was born in Budapest in 1957. Between 1982 and 1989 he attended and then graduated from the Budapest University of Economics.

He had many great solo exhibitions in Hungary. Some of his beloved images were made into hyperrealist paintings. Six stout albums were published from his selected works, one presenting his Budapest series.

He has directed seven feature films, fourteen television films and numerous documentaries. He is the founder and head of the Közgáz Visual Brigade independent film studio. He also founded and led for many years the first avant-garde jazz club in Hungary. He is an editor and presenter of the leading independent cultural radio station in Hungary, the Tilos Rádió.




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