8. Post-Nagybánya School

The so-called post-Nagybánya style is the style of slightly passive, introverted artists. Nevertheless, their art is humanly and artistically authentic. They tighten the deep human and social conflicts of the era to the ethical problems of the insulated artistical self. They confronted the raw reality that they couldn't accept with the poetic colors, the lyrics of the alienated lonely self. This style is deliberately connected to the specifically Hungarian traditions, especially to the Nagybánya school.

The members of the Gresham circle had similar esthetical principles. This group of friends who met at first at the Central and later at the Gresham coffeehouse, included artists (Róbert Berény, István Szőnyi, Pál Pátzay, Aurél Bernáth, József Egry, Imre Szobotka, Elemér Vass) as well as several art historians and critics (István Genthon, Imre Oltványi Ártinger) and collectors. They never organized themselves into an actual association. It was nothing else, but a circle of friends with similar views on the possibilities of arts. Beside this, they certainly did become, from the mid thirties on, an arbiter of taste, exerting opinion via the Szinyei Association in which they occupied important positions, on the pages of the periodical "Hungarian Art"; "Ars Hungarica" a series of books edited by Imre Oltványi Ártinger and trough their well cultivated relations with intellectual circles in the humanities. Their views became actual factors in official art policies and art direction by which time this community of friends had disintegrated.

We cannot speak of a unified Gresham style, at least certainly not in the first years of the group's formation. However from the mid-thirties on, many of these artists reached a tired kind of post impressionism. In addition, significant discrepancies may be pointed out in their views on art and the means of depicting observed reality.

The style of Pál Pátzay was a naturalistic one. His balanced figures, his portraits bearing the proportions of the individual characters are transfigured by cheerful harmony. In the case of the Hussar memorial in Székesfehérvár, this also succeeds on the scale of public sculpture.

At the peak of his expressionist period, Aurél Bernáth felt that his pantheism, his experiment at grasping totality, could not be carried any further; his road had to lead towards the restitution of the former rank of vision. In spite of this, in his best works from 1926-35 we see not a trace of formulaic post-impressionistic painting. The Riviera, with its disquieting effect was born out of the confrontation of reality as seen by Bernáth's eyes, with an idea of it surviving in the artist's imagination, during the dissolution of an interiorized memory image with the concrete visual spectacle. The forms and motifs are transfigured, enigmatic; they radiate the inner self of the artist.

Róbert Berény also struggled trying to reconcile the principle of representation with the special (formal and intellectual) problems that interested him. He became one of the innovators of advertising graphics in Hungary. His painting Woman Playing the Cello was born in the sphere of Gresham circle. The taut diagonal rhythms and the red-black color-contrasts bring about a sharp and daring consonance.

In the art of István Szőnyi, after a simplified cubism which touched expressionism, then a neo-classical period; misty, tremulous atmospheric effects attain a greater emphasis in his paintings. His pictures in tempera technique with restrained colors are filled with peasants and fishermen sunk in reverie, looking into the distance (Evening, 1934). The figures lack every individual feature and they are passive, static, and timeless. His main source of inspiration appears to be a passive resistance from the era saturated by deep social tensions.