Bela Szeift, ‘Soaring’, 2008, FRED.GIAMPIETRO Gallery
Bela Szeift, ‘Soaring’, 2008, FRED.GIAMPIETRO Gallery

Bela Szeift (1944-2012) was one of the most notorious outsider artists in Hungary. He operated independently, completely outside of the fine art scene in Budapest. He was in fact was alienated from this group and lived an isolated existence. Szeift began his career as a high school art teacher in Budapest for a few years. He began showing his work in the late 1960’s when in his 20’s. His art, even in it’s early stages, operated outside of what was accepted and expected both artistically and politically in the 60s-80s Hungarian culture. From the 70s onwards, he started to lose control of his life, he became an alcoholic, lost everything and was forced to spend the remaining days of his life mostly on the streets. He was often found at the Ecseri flea market in Budapest creating his art. It was here that several collectors from Budapest actively pursued Zeift’s work and supported him to a degree.

Painter, graphic artist. 1959 Transportation Club - Circle of Fine Arts (teacher: János Blaskó) 1963-65 Hungarian College of Fine Arts, professors: János Kmetty, János Blaskó, Simon Sarkantyu. Exhibiting from 1966 onwards, ÉS (an important Hungarian arts/culture/literature magazine) begins to regularly publish his works in the same year.1968 first solo exhibition at Frankel Leó Művelődési Otthon. His works resemble artists such as Géza Bene and Jenő Gadányi. Meets Tihamér Gyarmathy. Period of the so called blown pictures: the artist places different papers and objects on the surface of the picture, sprays paint on it, then removes the objects, creating a composition from the transparent outlines. He uses found objects from 1969. Creates his first objects. (In memoriam Kassák). Exhibition of blown pictures in April at the Fiatal Művészek Klub, already the first of these objects appear. In December he organizes an exhibition at the Derkovits Klub, participants include Péter Donáth, András Orvos, Emil Parrag, Gyula Pauer and Árpád Szabados. He exhibits an object. A documentary is filmed by the Gulyás brothers, with appearances by László Beke, Iván Bojár, Katalin Dávid, Éva Körner, Ottó Mezei and Géza Perneczky. Exhibition gets banned/closed down by the Lectorate. 1970 meets the authors of the Elérhetetlen Föld anthology (József Utassy, Benedek Kiss, János Oláh, etc).1971 together with György Galántai he creates the famous Kháron Ladikja installation at the Kápolnatárlat exhibition. Saarbrücken TV shoots a documentary about the process and of the two artists. 1973 exhibition in Cegléd: Authors of the Elérhetetlen Föld hold a literary session for the opening night. 1974 begins his black-silver period. Designs book covers. Gets invited to Dunaújváros, for the Acélszobrászati Szimpózium. 1978 he works in Etyek with Kolos Nagy. Presents his sculptures at an outdoors exhibition, including his wooden sculpture called the Utolsó gerinces. 1978-79 he curates exhibitions for Mini Galéria. (Derkovits, Péter Ujházi, Tamás Váczy J., Emánuel Giron, István ef Zámbó, László fe Lugossy) 1980 auctions his works in the Kassák Klub, then moves to the countryside. Lives as a farmer in Kára. During this period he concentrates on painting and drawing, tries to depict the teeming nature that surrounds him. 1983 returns to Budapest. Curator at Mini Galéria for another year. 1989 to 1992 works as a graphic designer for newspaper called Kis Újság, creating mostly political collages. 1998 invitation for the Kollázs exhibition: Könyvművészek prize; Magyar Festők Társasága prize.

About Bela Szeift

Hungarian, 1944-2012, Budapest, Hungary