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László Fehér

Hungary
b. 1953
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“The great majority of my paintings were inspired by my own life. After all, I am always relating my own story. I can speak most accurately and authentically about my own private world [...]."

Born in 1953 in Székesfehérvár (Hungary), László Fehér is considered one of the most important representatives of Hungarian figurative painting. He studied at Budapest’s Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1976. From the mid-1970s onwards, he produced photorealistic works that reflected both the desolateness of urban life and the tense atmosphere of dictatorship. By the early 1980s, his paintings began to include increasingly expressive colours. Childhood and past trauma were important themes, and the artist often uses family photographs as a starting point. Throughout the years, his palette gradually narrowed to include only two or three colours, used both in confrontation and in combination. He has been creating his “iron drawings” since 1990 – on these sculptural works his isolated, transparent figures step out to the physical space.

Certain archetypal motifs constitute ongoing and recurring themes in his work, such as stairs, water and houses. Despite their mystical content, these motifs retain their everyday character and spontaneity. Although the dominant colours in his work have changed over the years, its unchanging essence, the message, is an intricate relationship between the human figure and its surroundings: emotionally complex, often visually shocking, and at once harmonious and disharmonious. Today, his works are found in many private and public collections, in Hungary and around the world. He lives and works in Budapest and Tác.

Bathers, 2000

iron, 500 x 500 x 200 cm
courtesy of the Artist
photo: Miklós Sulyok

His first Iron Drawings were shown at the Venice Biennale in 1990. The group of sculptures was purchased by German collector Peter Ludwig, and the works are currently part of the Ludwig Forum collection in Aachen. In later years, Fehér created several other significant iron drawings, which frequently (as is also the case with Bathers) cite motifs from his earlier paintings and paper works. This work was shown for the first time in 2000 at the Art on Lake group exhibition held at the boating lake of Budapest’s City Park, but later also appeared in the artist’s retrospective exhibitions (in the Hall of Art / Kunsthalle, 2001 and the Ludwig Museum, 2007; both in Budapest).