Kovásznai was primarily a painter, who practiced the art of painting on both canvas and the cinema screen and he is often seen as a free-spirited, universal artist whose work cannot be classified into any known artistic school of thought. His unique oeuvre consists of paintings and drawings, as well as experimental animation films in
which he attempted to “animate” the art of painting - an entirely different approach from mainstream animation. Politically, Kovásznai was attached to Marxism, yet had an ongoing conflict with the ruling regime. A significant part of his work reflects on the
spring and summer of 1968, and the events in Paris and Prague. Paintings from his short film “Ca Ira: The song of the French revolution’, will be shown, with Marat, Saint-Just and their companions depicted as increasingly threatening figures, looming on the horizon of the 20th century.
Image rights: Kovásznai Foundation
Since Kovasznai had no opportunity to exhibit his work during his lifetime, and his films had only been accessible in cinemas for very limited periods of time, the first stage of the Foundation’s work was to establish his crucial role within the history of Hungarian contemporary art.
In 2010 the first ever Kovasznai retrospective took over an entire wing of the Hungarian National Gallery to critical and public acclaim, accompanied by a monograph published by the Foundation.
In 2011, the Foundation hosted a joint exhibition of South African artist William Kentridge and Kovasznai’s work at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, which featured installation-based animated films by both artists. Speaking about Kovasznai’s work, Kentridge said: ‘’Seeing… Kovasznai… what felt very familiar was kind of the impetus and the essentialness and the emergency of making. That it felt like an emergency. That work has to be made non-stop. …Whether it is in charcoal, or thick oil paint, whether it is a view of Johanessburg or Budapest, that seems secondary to the pressure for, the pressure for making, and the excess of making… seeing his work my immediate thought was I want to be back in the studio making something. There was kind of a collegial fury of creation which is a main thing that I kind of got, got from him.”
In autumn 2011, a Kovasznai exhibition was held at the Collegium Hungaricum Berlin, Germany.
Between October 2012- February 2013 the Deutsches Historisches Museum of Berlin hosted an exhibition titled “The Desire for Freedom. Art in Europe since 1945”, featuring one of Kovasznai’s films alongside works by Fernand Léger, Damien Hirst, Tadeusz Kantor, Richard Hamilton, Gerhard Richter and Boris Christo. The exhibition later set out on a journey to Milan, Tallin and Krakow to last until January 2014.
…and two years later the Foundation launched its biggest project so far: the introduction of György Kovásznai to the London and international fine art scene via a major solo exhibition at Somerset House at the beginning of March 2016.
Some paintings and films will be shown in London at the exhibition 'Creative Fury', alongside the work of William Kentridge, November 2016 and the "Memory of the Summer of '74" has been included in the Animation Film Programme of Art Basel Miami, 2016.