György Bp. Szabó and his Bp. Service band started with the New Wave movement. Many people recall the art of the 1980’s as a period preoccupied with painting, or rather a return to painting; therefore, they tend to confuse New Wave with New Painting. New Wave, however, cannot be exclusively restricted to painting, not even within the sphere of the visual arts. It equally extended to Performance Art (János Szirtes, Böröcz-Révész, El Kazovkszij’s Dzhan Panopticon, László Fe Lugossy, etc.), Action Art (Miklós Erdély, the INDIGO/INterDIsciplinary Thinking Group , the Xertox Group, and Gábor Tóth), photography (János Vető, Árpád Fákó, Lenke Szilágyi, László Lugosi Lugo) and graphic art (András Wahorn, El Kazovszkij, András Böröcz). When talking about New Wave painting, one should first of all keep in mind the paintings of such artists as Vető-Zuzu, László feLugossy, István Nyáry and El Kazovszkij, or the late works of Miklós Erdély. New Painting, however (with the involvement of Ákos Birkás, József Bullás, István Mazzag, Gábor Ősz, Tamás Soós, among others), was a ramification of this movement and has subsequently developed its independent history.
The New Wave movement, having stemmed from urban subcultures, did not only focus on the art forms mentioned earlier, but also embraced filmmaking (Gábor Bódy, János Xantus, etc.), music (such as the bands Trabant, Balaton, Bizottság/Committee, Európa Kiadó , etc.) and fashion design (Tamás Király). Its characteristic trait was its retrospection into, and re-creation of, certain art forms of the recent past, which had become regarded as outlandish. In the field of music it implied the old, 90-second pop songs mostly performed in suits, while in the field of fine arts, it brought a return to painting that had already been considered to be completely exhausted as an art form by the time of the 1970’s. Deconstruction, naturally, was an important element within the replication of these older art forms, subverting the set rules that had once been deemed pivotal. It involved the application of luminous bodies, such as neon tubes and LED’s, or other sculptural elements, in painting; or the application of paint and colour onto sculptures and photographs. Artists also fondly used other objects of all kinds – small and large, cheap and colourful plastic items, often junk – as materials for sculptures. Photographs, newspaper cut-outs and visual quotations of all types, or perhaps tiny objects, fragments of mirrors, foils, razor blades, and so forth, were applied in prints and drawings, and generally everything was inscribed on. Lacquer-filled permanent markers appeared on the scene at that time, which made it possible for artists to write on glass and plastic surfaces, the most popular being silver and golden markers.
One may also regard Bp. Szabó as an artist representative of the New Wave generation for another reason. He, like the majority of New Wave artists (from members of the Committee band through Árpád Fákó, János Gasner, György Giorgió Soós and István Ocztos, to János Vető) also made music. Alongside his music, he was also active in several other art forms. Among these artistic endeavours, his concert posters deserve special attention. In addition to the posters designed by András Wahorn, Árpád Fákó, György Giorgió Soós and Sándor Bernáth(y), Bp. Szabó’s posters may also be regarded as a sort of prelude to the typographical revolution that would come to flourish in the visual world of magazines during the 1990’s.
Speaking of his typography, it should be noted that Bp. Szabó designed the special fonts based on Jan uár Herceg/Prince January’s personal handwriting characteristics for Január’s volume, Terra Forming, which was published in 2000 by the KlaskyCsupó Publishing House. Thus, it is partly owing to György Bp. Szabó, and partly to Gábor Csupó, that this book is now available at the Writers’ Bookshop.
Another genre, typical of the New Wave movement, implied artist’s books, catalogues, small brochures and magazines, be published by the artists themselves in a limited number of printed copies, or as unique editions (from SzNOB International by Tamás Pap, through the Artpool Letters to Vető, Lugosi Lugo, Fe Lugossy, Lenke Szilágyi, Fákó, and the list goes on). In the traditional sense, perhaps these should be filed under the category of graphic art, but one could also approach the phenomenon from its special focus on textual patterns, as well as from its picture book and comic strip qualities, or – in terms of the Eastern European political context – from the perspective of Samizdat.
The Bp. Service band played industrial music, although one tends to believe that New Wave bands primarily traded in parodies of pop songs. In reality, they played in a flabbergasting range of music styles from Punk through Ethno, Reggae and Ambient music to Jazz. Industrial music was also played by the Art Deco band in Budapest, only in a completely different approach from that of the Bp. Service band.
Some of us, who – owing to our age – were more or less witnesses to György’s career, consider his recent activities as a current phase in a process that has continued for some twenty years. We are able to differentiate its new aspects from the older elements that have also been varied on. We can clearly see those aspects that have been kept by him from the one-time New Wave era as creative concepts that can be expanded on.
Artpool, this time, presents some of György’s recent works in the context of fellow artists representing both the younger and the older generations. The careers of these four artists have taken them down completely different paths in space and time, each working in a dissimilar artistic context. Thus, this is the first – and most probably the last – occasion for us to observe their works side by side. Actually, no direct connection can be pointed out in terms of art history between the respective art works and artistic careers.
The pages from György’s books presented here, the tiny objects visible in one of them (which he assembled from discarded objects he had found in the streets) and his musical compositions that can be heard (which also fondly incorporate urban noises) pose the following question: can we draw a parallel between these works and the street art presented here by a young artist?
This approach can yield interesting results, as the artworks visible/audible here have a rather exceptional relationship; thus, by no means do they confirm that “all roads lead to Rome”. Whereas the New Wave of the 1980’s had stronger or weaker links to graffiti, among others, and especially so in New York, György Bp. Szabó has gone down another road. Therefore, one may not come to a general conclusion about a possible connection between New Wave and Street Art, and certainly not so in terms of reducing it to trivialities. This exhibition here at Artpool may exactly act as a reminder for us to examine things in detail!