The oeuvre exhibition of Simon Hantai, pliage grandmaster is open

The influence of Simon Hantai is beyond doubt both in the Hungarian and French painting, and represents an indispensable milestone for the generations of artists following him. Our latest exhibition is not simply a commemoration of the biggest master of the so-called pliage technique, but at the same time also means a sort of recollection of the fascinating life and oeuvre of the artist. The exhibition organized in co-operation with the Kálmán Makláry Fine Arts Gallery has brought here several works of Hantai, never introduced to the Hungarian audience before. 

As Kata Vizi, art director emphasized in her opening speech, it was an old dream of hers to have an exhibition of Hantai’s works at the Ybl Buda Creative House. At the same time, she expressed her gratitude to the Kálmán Makláry Fine Arts Gallery and its manager, Éva Soós, for making this possible. Sixty years ago, in his studio in Paris Simon Hantai said farewell to the traditional methodology of painting for good, and turned his interest towards knotting and folding, i.e. the previously mentioned pliage technique, a method in which he managed to achieve world fame. “The exhibition is indeed special, because it has been the first time when the elemental, bark-like work of Hantai, entitled ‘Anamorphosis’ is accessible for the public in its entirety”, added the art director of the YBCH. Even the creation of the painting is surrounded by an extraordinary story: it is made from former, already “buried”, torn works of the artist, more precisely based on them, by using the method of serigraphy. That is, it was the past, the closure of a former artistic period that gave birth to one of the iconic works of Hantai. The exciting installation of the exhibited works makes it possible to visit not only the exhibition space, but the most important stations of Hantai’s art as well.


Following the opening words of Kata Vizi, art historian Dávid Fehér took the floor and welcomed the audience.  “Canvas is like an archaeological site”, said Fehér, quoting Georges Didi-Huberman, as the French art historian characterized Hantai’s pliage works. “The dynamism of Simon Hantai’s work is created by the rhythmic dialect of folding and unfolding, covering and revealing, intellectuality and sensuality”, added Dávid Fehér. All works displayed at the exhibition are the embodiment of this duality. Metaphoric and sacral references, symbols often accompany his works, just like in his work Priage, created in 1962.

At the beginnings the art of Simon Hantai was influenced by Italian fresco painting and the art of Csontváry and Bonnard, then, in his first years in Paris his interest turned towards classical avant-garde, and especially surrealist painters like Ernst, Miró and Matta influenced his artistry. He moved to Paris in autumn 1948, having seen the ever-radicalizing political situation of Hungary. Simon Hantai is considered to be among the major artists of post-war France. His paintings created between 1960 and 1982, using the knotting-folding method are about remembrance: they recall the calendered forms of Swabian aprons, the Duchampian refusal of classic painting, the colour forms of Matisse’s paper cut-outs, or the drip-painted canvases of Pollock.


The fascinating exhibition tries to provide an overview of the outline and the major turning points of Simon Hantai’s oeuvre; it is open for the public until 15 November at the Ybl Buda Creative House.

October 26, 2020.