The city has seen an abundance of civil initiatives in recent years which are independent of state or corporate sponsorship, work in a not-for-profit model, and complement the offer of large staterun museums and galleries.
These alternative places usually host a large variety of visual art forms, or also embrace other arts to attain a synthesis. In the following we want to take a brief look at four, particularly exciting and versatile spots of the Budapest art scene.
Ever since its foundation in 2006, Boulevard és Brezhnev Gallery (B&B) in Király street has focused on the presentation and promotion of talented young artists. True to its alternative, or shall we say, “squat,” character, B&B Gallery has moved house several times in its short history. Founder Zsolt Victora and his company of artists first rented a small shop under 39 Király utca, only to cross the street shortly afterwards, to take up residence in a larger gallery where they were to present a long succession of exhibitions. With more than eighty exhibits under its belt, B&B faced a new challenge in March 2010 when the localgovernment revoked the lease. At this point, the gallery and the associated artists “unlawfully” occupied an empty and dilapidated property, also in Király utca, and declared a new, slightly ironic and critical motto: “May homeless art find its travelling circus in thisgallery, the Flying Dutchman of the main street of the former ghetto.” B&B Gallery hasremained faithful to its original concept, that of the cultural bazaar: here you will find a motley aggregation of small and inexpensive works of visual and applied art (paintings, sculptures, drawings, graphics, photos, videos and design objects, even furniture and mass products). This makes Boulevard és Brezsnyev both a trading gallery (where artworks are bought and sold, for-profit and charitable auctions are held), and a meeting point, a creative centre and non-profit organisation (which has close links with the Hungarian joke party, the Two-tailed Dog Party); a place with a liberal and inclusive spirit where contemporary art is regarded free of conventions and restrictions. Further information: www.bbgaleria.hu
Unlike the grassroots B&B Gallery, Ludwiginzert has a far more conscious concept. The new project gallery of Ludwig Museum Budapest opened in June 2010, in the legendary Jozsefvaros Gallery, which in the 1980s functioned as the focal point of the most progressive trends in art. Nor was it now a random choice of location: the LudwigInzert seeks to continue and nourish the tradition of experimental centres of visual art, as well as to represent artistic reflections on the hottest issues of contemporary culture, particularly the social and cultural aspects of the urban environment in the 8th District, which is undergoing radical changes. The six young artists, who all live in that district, Józsefváros, apply different approaches and styles in their explorations of the deep-seated and complex problems of the district. For further information, visit www.ludwigmuseum.hu.
IMPEX - Kortárs Mûvészeti Szolgáltató (contemporary art service provider) is one of the first galleries in Budapest to share the premises with a bar or a café. Gergely László (Lumen Phot Art Foundation), curators and art historians Hajnalka Somogyi and Rita Kálmán, artist Katarina Sevic, architect Samu Szemerey and designer Bence Buczkó opened the independent, non-profit gallery in the Futó Street building of the West Balkan club in 2006. In keeping with the character of the location, IMPEX was envisaged as a live forum that is open towards the audience, the civil society and all forms of art. Functioning both as a gallery and as a creative centre, and boasting lively international relations (e.g. with
Germany and Spain), the establishment presented free and bold selections from the most diverse genres, the works of young artists, some of them at the very start of their careers.
In 2007, the house that gave home to West Balkan was set be demolished, and the gallery
had to move. For a time, IMPEX organized its exhibitions and edited its publications from a private home, before joining forces in 2008 with contemporary art centre Trafó, for the sake of a project that concentrated on public spaces in the city. Most recently, they published an exciting and long-needed monograph on the independent places of art in Hungary in the period 1989-2009, entitled 'Nem kacsák vagyunk a tavon, hanem hajók a tengeren' [We are not ducks on a lake but boats on the sea.] For further information, visit
Holdudvar Gallery opened in 2007, in the Margitsziget casino designed by the architect of the Budapest Opera House, Miklós Ybl, and which is home to a popular restaurant and bar, Holdudvar. Their exhibitions feature young artists and career-starters, while the place, like IMPEX, also functions as an open, inclusive cultural scene. As part of their program “Holdudvar Piedesztal,” they present ever new public statues by different artists on the terrace of the restaurant. Also hosting events in the sister arts, like performance, contemporary dance, literature, film or jazz, the gallery has become an inspirational,
effervescent hotspot of Budapest nigh life, catering particularly for a young inexpert
clientele. For further information, visit www.holdudvar.net
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