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Imre Bak

Hungary
b. 1939
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“With geometry, people also have this misunderstanding that it’s some kind of a technical thing… but it actually involves a lot of emotion. A form has a certain size because that’s how it works well."

photo: Dávid Biró

Born in 1939 in Budapest, Hungary, Imre Bak graduated from the Department of Painting of the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in 1963. Inspired by geometrical, abstract and colour field paintings, he began to create 3D paintings emphasising the importance of space. This evolved in the early 1970s to conceptual works that explore the meaning of signs and symbols. In the 1980s and 1990s, he began to analyse theories of the postmodern and turned to architectural structures.

Imre Bak’s works have been exhibited in solo shows in Budapest, London and Slovakia, as well as in numerous group shows across Europe and his native Hungary. In 1986 he represented Hungary at the 42nd Venice Biennale. His artworks can be found in the collection of Tate Modern in London, MUMOK in Vienna, the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava, and the Ludwig Museum in Budapest, among others. He lives and works in Budapest.

Landscape With the Four Elements, 1972

ink on letraset paper, 43 x 61 cm

This work is closely related to Imre Bak’s conceptual book from 1973 entitled Do (It) Yourself, in which, as Dávid Fehér explains, “Imre Bak’s discernments in the psychology of vision lead him to the fundamental question of “existence”: he describes active, “creative” vision as a kind of meditation, while the conceptual figures in his book Do (It) Yourself can be regarded as »teaching aids« for visual exercises that are meant to increase »vision intensity«. The book presents a carefully constructed chain of associations, which summarizes Imre Bak’s conceptual activities. Using basic geometric shapes, it creates a visual representation of a stylized landscape as an archetype, it ascribes concepts to basic motifs […] Bak’s reduced “landscape-objects” (Sky‒Field, 1972; Sky‒Field‒River, 1972) broke the archetypal image of the landscape down into its basic elements.”