Sanghay – Shanghai. Parallel Diversities between East and West
22 September 2017 – 8 April 2018
Curators: Dr Györgyi Fajcsák and Dr Béla Kelényi
Opening 21 September 2017, the new exhibition at the Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts, titled Sanghay – Shanghai. Parallel Diversities between East and West, links the emblematic oriental metropolis of Shanghai with the Sanghay Bar in Budapest, a perfect encapsulation of the contradictory image of the East that prevailed in Hungary between the wars. The aim of the exhibition is twofold: firstly to allow a glimpse inside the world of Hungarians who lived and worked in Shanghai in that period, as seen through their own personal items (many of which now form part of the collection of the Hopp Museum); and secondly to present the findings of recent research into previously unexplored areas of Hungarian art that came under the influence of the East.
The latest research has uncovered a complex web of interconnections and mutual influences, not only in the different branches of the arts, but also in the most diverse areas of everyday life. The exhibition offers insight into the way people lived in Shanghai’s “Hungarian colony” in the interwar period, in streets that pulsated with workers and merchants from every corner of the globe! The sights of the city are brought to life in archive photographs and through the objects people used on a daily basis. In the photos taken by Imre Farkas, Western faces look out at us, posing in front of Eastern backgrounds, while in the postcards collected by György Román (artist, boxer, failed chocolate manufacturer and impresario) we can see oriental ladies dressed in fashionable Western clothes and accessories.
Among the Hungarians who tried their luck in the bustling Chinese city were members of the Komor family, who opened the Komor and Kuhn art dealership here and who, in the hard times at the end of the First World War, provided financial support to Hungarian soldiers and refugees trying to make their way home. The escaped prisoner-of-war László Hudec, a qualified architect, also settled here, eventually designing Shanghai’s first skyscraper. A selection of the buildings designed by Hudec that are still standing today are shown in a special photo installation. In addition to the permanent residents in the “Hungarian colony”, numbering some eighty families, many others paid briefer visits: tourists, secret agents (Trebitsch-Lincoln), and performing artistes, touring the entertainment hotspots of Asia.
The 1930s saw a profusion of new nightclubs in Shanghai, elite ballrooms that even welcomed female guests! More than one of these venues played host to a dancer named Flóra Dessewffy, completely forgotten by history until quite recently, whose varied performances also featured a few Hungarian dances; the scintillating costumes she wore, handmade in China, constitute one of the revelations of this exhibition. (Another widely travelled Hungarian performer, Klári Csorba, was often invited to sing live on Shanghai radio, and she may have been responsible for turning the world-renowned Gloomy Sunday into a hit in China.)
The modern cosmopolis of Shanghai contrasted sharply with the rest of China at the time; in 1937 a modest reflection of its magnificence was recreated in Hungary, when the Sanghay Bar opened its doors in Buda, not far from the Gellért Hotel. The nightclub was decorated in “marvellous eastern splendour”, and its name – together with countless little details, like the tiny, kimono-clad figure shown on the cover of the programme, alongside a champagne glass – was part of a concept designed to satisfy the growing local demands for a taste of the exotic. Now completely forgotten, it was once one of the most notorious night spots in town, famous for the varied entertainment provided by the dancers and musicians who performed there, on a stage dominated by an enormous statue of the Buddha.
As the paintings and photographs in the exhibition show, it was quite common during this period for dancing and erotica to be mixed together with elements from Asian religions, and such motifs were also found in cinema, the most popular and exciting art form of the day. In the early 1940s, two Hungarian film productions reworked the story of Mata Hari, the infamous oriental dancer and spy; the sets for both movies – Siamese Cat and Machita – included interiors decorated with items borrowed from the Hopp Museum, mostly Chinese and Japanese artworks. Excerpts from the films, in which the two stars – Zita Szeleczky and Katalin Karády – perform oriental dances, can be seen at the exhibition, as can some of the actual objects visible in the backgrounds of the movies.
The strange combination of erotica and Buddhism is evident in a number of works by some noted Hungarian artists, including Nirvana by István Csók and the famous series by János Vaszary titled Buddha with Nude. Pride of place in the exhibition is taken by a tapestry of the Buddha, a unique creation designed by Tibor Boromisza, a devoted student of Buddhism.
In addition to 88 digital photos, 3 film excerpts and over 200 artworks, there are also several interactive “do and learn” features at the exhibition. The richly illustrated catalogue, published in English and in Hungarian, contains studies written by twenty different authors on subjects as diverse as film history, dance history, architecture and the history of fashion.
In addition to the exhibits themselves, on display until 8 April 2018, a varied programme of related events is also planned, including a series of presentations on cultural history, an architecture day, themed workshops, a monthly Shanghai film club, and a range of museum education activities.
Nagas, Birds and Elephant
Traditional Dress from Mainland Southeast Asia
30 September 2016 – 20 Agust 2017
The new temporary exhibition at the Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts, Budapest, the Nagas, Birds and Elephants, presents Southeast Asian textiles from a variety of viewpoints – geographical, chronological and anthropological. Through explanations of the ritual functions of textiles and the symbology in their patterns, and examples of the different types of textiles and traditional costumes worn in the region, the exhibition aims to inform visitors about the religious beliefs, customs and celebrations of the diverse peoples of mainland Southeast Asia.
The distinctively Southeast Asian form of artistic expression can be traced through the region’s textiles. This is the “mother tongue” of art, and one of its most important embodiments. By taking a closer look at Southeast Asian textiles, and finding out more about the different varieties, how they are used, and what the symbols mean, visitors can unlock part of the mystery of how people in this distant part of the world live and think.
The show consists of over 200 exhibits: in addition to some extremely valuable and rarely seen items from Hungary’s public collections (the Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts and the Museum of Ethnography), the exhibition also features objects brought directly from the regions in question by private collectors and explorer-researchers.
|Paying homage to the twenthy-eight Buddhas, 1850-1870|
|Hmong skirt, Laos|
|Seated Buddha with the right in the gesture of touching the earth. Myanmar.|
IMAGING KOREA - Beyond the people land and time
Budapest Welcomes Korean Photographers’ Touring Exhibition
Date: 6th May – 28th August 2016
Venue: Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts
„Photography captures the present but it will soon be the past.
[…] Photos contribute to things changed, to a vanishing world.” KANG Woongu
The first Eastern European country to establish diplomatic relations with Korea, Hungary shares so much with Korean that it’s called ‘The East Asia of Europe’. The most impressive thing is that, as in Korea, they hang and dry chili peppers and garlic, essential ingredients in Korean cooking. Although the chili pepper is called paprika in Hungary, the sight of if surely reminds me of an autumn day typical of Korea. Hungary located in the east of Europe and Korea located in the east of Asia. It’s not a mere coincidence but a fortuitous meeting that these two countries, which light up the east end of their respective continents, are now taking the first steps together in the exhibit entitled which will tour six countries starting from the ‘Pearl of Danube’ Budapest, Hungary and continuing to Germany, Poland, Belgium, Kazakhstan, and Spain.
There is a saying that goes ‘Meeting one good person in a good place is like catching a star in the sky’. The meeting between KIM Jaehwan, Director of Korean Cultural Center in Budapest, Hungary and KWON Taegyun, a self-proclaimed nomad and photographer of very Korean sensibility was just such a meeting. They had the idea to present Korea to Europe using the attractive medium of documentary photography. In 2014, KWON Taegyun suggested earnestly that I bring to concept such an exhibition. However, at 60 years of age he passed from acute heart failure and the plans lay in a drawer quietly. Nevertheless, the idea wasn’t meant to be forgotten that easily. Director KIM Jaewhan, meeting with Korea’s eminent photographer KANG Woongu, again brought up the idea of a documentary photography exhibit and plans were drawn up by mid-2015. The exhibit plan was revitalized with the ambition to share with the people of Europe the works of KWON Taegyun, high-quality Korean photography, and images imbued with Korean sensibility. It all started with the seven representative Korean photographers KANG Woongu, KWON Taegyun, KIM Jungman, PARK Jongwoo, LEE Gapchul, CHO Daeyeon, and SEO Heunkang telling the story of Korea in .
Documentary photography is the aesthetic way of recording a moment for all time. presents works at the pinnacle of this ‘aesthetic of recording’ which has never been and may never again be shown to the world. This exhibit, presenting in one place 125 photographs of beautiful strength in documentation and artistry by seven photographers of distinct perspectives, readily expresses their lives lived within Korean tradition, culture, nature, and time. The time when Korean culture and tradition, based in agriculture, was at its height. The times when such culture gradually retreated. The people who had lived and are living in such times. In palaces, in temples, in historic sites, in the demilitarized zone and its reality of national division, and in everyday places, photographers represent powerful Beyond the People, Land and Time> is the lyrical language of images spanning Korea’s past, its roots, and its present which are both memories we would long for and which the world can relate to. The works of this exhibition were selected from the most representative works of seven photographers who have labored extensively to complete this project. Though only excerpts from assorted exhibitions, these images collectively form a broad spectrum and represent a polished exhibition showing a different side to Korea.
The works of KANG Woogu are the selection from ‘Luck or Destiny’. When the winds of industrialization started to blow in Korea in 1970, KANG Woongu captured the day-to-day life in Korea’s countryside. Photos taken of the present which have since become the past, KANG’s photos capturing even the shining aura of daily life share with the world the Korean sensibilities of a bygone era. A self-proclaimed nomad, KWON Taegyun wandered the corners of Korea in the 1980s and encapsulated within his neat frame the lives and spirit of our parents, siblings, and friends in the spaces of their lives. LEE Gapchul takes the sources of the inner lives of Korean and depicts them in grainy textures, tilted frames, and scattered focus with a spontaneous unconscious apart from rationality. KIM Jungman rediscovers the beauty of Korea, a mysterious land flowing continuously with rich tradition and the colors of four seasons over its 5,000 years of history. PARK Jongwoo gives a reportage, even in the world’s only divided country of Korea, of the reality and landscape faced at the demilitarized zone cleaving the waist of the Korean peninsula. CHO Daeyeon looks at the prolonged breathing of the monks who reside in the temples in the southern regions where Buddhism first spread into Korea and expresses his accumulated impressions on Buddhism. SEO Heunkang finds his photographic subjects in the palaces, royal tombs, and historic sites, things most imbued with the traces of Korean history. He expresses as his own the visual elements under the best times and lighting which best reveal the shapes of graceful yet powerful color.
This exhibit is all the more precious and valuable for containing images of Korea that European observers are seeing for the first time, armed with the vestiges, deep lyricism, and intensity of the people, land, and time of Korea as permeated over the ages and captured from the 1970s to the present by these seven photographers of different artistic bent. Embedded with history, embedded with culture, embedded with people, this exhibit contemplates Korean traditions, culture, and change over time and presents the images of Korea, sometimes powerfully, sometimes warmly. Hungary, Germany, Poland, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Spain, and Korea, seven countries with varying cultures through will witness the images and sensibilities of Korea in a cultural exchange and thus form a special connection as if ‘catching a star from the sky’.
|Paying homage to the twenthy-eight Buddhas, 1850-1870|
|Hmong skirt, Laos|
|Seated Buddha with the right in the gesture of touching the earth. Myanmar.|
Geishas by the Danube
The influence of Japanese culture on Hungarian art
Castle Garden Bazaar, Palace of Guards (1013 Budapest, 2 Ybl Miklós tér)
16 December, 2016 – 12 March, 2017
The Kovács Gábor Art Foundation and the Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts present the first exhibition in Hungary that looks at the influence of Japanese culture on Hungarian art, with a selection of artworks from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Museum of Applied Arts – Hungarian National Gallery and the Museum of Applied Arts are cooperating partners of the exhibition.
Japan’s self-chosen isolation, which had lasted for two centuries, ended in 1853 with the arrival of Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s squadron. With several of the island country’s ports opened for international trade, from the early 1850s Japanese artworks started to be exported to Europe on a large scale, and the first Western collections of Japanese art came into being.
The keen interest in Japan that marked the Western countries and Hungary from the middle of the 19th century, was called, along with the works of art that were inspired by Japanese art, “Japonism.” The period’s fashionable ceramics were decorated with Japanese figures and motifs, the stages featured Madame Butterflies, and no gentlewoman’s wardrobe would have been complete without a kimono. “Geisha” was one of the first Japanese words to enter the Hungarian language, which is why it appears in the title of this exhibition of Japonism in Hungary.
Japonism is one of the most exciting examples of intercultural influences. It was a case of embracing a foreign culture, rejuvenating thereby traditional or outdated forms and outlooks.
|Oszkár Tarján (Huber): Oendant with wave motif, ca. 1910, Museum of Applied Arts|
|Utagawa Kunisada: Woman with mirror, 1843-1847|
|Bertalan Székely: Japanese woman, 1871, Hungarian National Gallery|
“In Search of Prince Genji - Japan in Words and Images”