Budapest has always had a very vibrant art scene, but it always remains very low profile. While those living in Budapest will know about it, most of the artists never make it out of the region, with perhaps only a few exhibitions in Vienna or Prague being the farthest that this art can get. With the advent of the internet, this has begun to change, but the world of Budapest contemporary art still remains local, or regionally known at best.
No, Budapest is usually known for its Museums and architecture, the type of art that is from the past, that is dead and safe. I wish to list some of the spaces where art still lives, where ti si in the process of being created, where it is raw and original and unexpected. Here is a list of galleries and spaces where the contemporary art of Budapest and the surrounding areas can be viewed, or even purchased.
This incredibly cute café, museum and gallery is THE center for photography in Budapest today. Hungarian photography has always had a good name for itself, and many pioneers of the genre have been Hungarian, so it is no surprise that an establishment dealing with photography in Budapest would be as good as this one is.
Currently there is an exhibition of Howard Greenberg’s collected works, with an introduction from Mr. Greenberg himself. There are also several exhibitions of contemporary Hungarian photographers as well
One of the foremost contemporary art galleries in Budapest is the ACB house for contemporary art. Mostly paintings and statues (and of course mixed mediums) can be seen here, and the house sponsors many artists, something very few galleries do in this city. The gallery is located in the busy Király street, one of the central streets of Budapest running in the 7th district through to the 6th. This street is known as a great party location, and has several art institutions on it as well.
Their current exhibition is of local artist Csaba Róka Kis. He is a painter who explores the themes of masculinity and its legacy in Central Europe. It s unabashed, both an inspiring journey of self exploration and a critique of the current prevalent ideals of masculinity, nationalism and what it is to be a man, this is a truly worthwhile look into the heart of Hungarian’s understanding of who they are and what they represent, and perhaps can help to understand the Hungarian psyche a little better.
Lena Roselli is a gallery with a mission. That mission is to give much needed support to Eastern European art, and provide a place where art can flourish, by maintaining a gallery with constant exhibitions, and to also provide a place for the art market as well. The founder of the gallery, Ilona Léna Orosz had a vision of Budapest. She saw the city of bridges as an important meeting point between East and West and not just geographically either; she saw a place where the art world of the East and West can merge, a place that can provide an important link and point of communication and commerce between two very segregated worlds of art. This is why she established the BudArtPest project, which this gallery is basically a headquarters for. The aim is to make this city an important place in the international art world.
Many different artists from many different countries can be seen on display, and there are constantly new exhibitions on display. Currently, there is an exhibition of the collage works of Krisztián Sándor until January 20th.
A most interesting space and concept, this gallery and art shop was established in 2012 with the specific aim of creating a space where thematic exhibitions can be held that speak on topics that are relevant in today’s art world, or topics that bear a social significance. The gallery also has a strong internationalist ideal, they are one of the few galleries that has contacts with the art world outside of Budapest, they believe that relevance is necessarily tied up with international visibility. The gallery is run by a Swiss historian and curator, and a Hungarian sociologist, and feature exhibitions that have a Budapest location and a second one abroad in different places like Bern or Berlin. The aim of the gallery is to make their artists known internationally through providing exchanges and visibility for mid career artists in Budapest.
Currently the gallery has to programs running. One is the Extensions exhibit of five Hungarian painters. This exhibit interacts with and is partially subsumed by the Art Market Budapest exhibit, which is perhaps the biggest overview of contemporary Budapest art work.
Featuring mostly contemporary sculpture and photography, but not shying away from any medium, the “little room” (literal translation of the name of the gallery) is an artist run institution. Shrouding themselves in mystery and providing very little information, this space is quickly gaining in reputation as one of the most relevant and interesting places to host art exhibitions. The gallery is known to hold art fairs of various European cities, and is one of the best places for commerce as well. The gallery is located in one of the small streets in the 5th district called Képíró utca, and is a very typical Budapest location, with beautiful urban surroundings, in the middle of the art district between that is one the border of the 5th and 8th districts.
Their current exhibitions features the weird and off angled photography of Ádám Kokesch, called POD.
Perhaps the best locally known gallery is the Trapéz, which hosts an amazing number and variety of exhibitions. Mostly an exhibition space, this gallery has sculpture, photography, paintings, even projector based mediums. Also located in the 5th district near the Danube in a historical museum district this space brings a dash of life into the Budapest art world.
Currently hosting an exhibit by artist Csilla Klenyánszki, this exhibit is very typical of the space itself. She uses sculptures, installations of pencils holding eggs and other fragile things delicately in place, photographs and projection, the exhibit plays with light and space, and is far from a dull room full of pictures sitting quietly on a wall.
With all of these different galleries, and many more just like them (lie the Neon gallery, or the exhibition space in Lurdy ház, for example), there is just one more that we need to mention. The Műcsarnok, is the far most mainstream gallery and art shop in Budapest, something of a tourist attraction located on Heroes square, this is a huge museum that hosts contemporary art exhibits.