Imre Égerházi of Hajdúhadház, 1991

Imre Égerházi of Hajdúhadház, 1991

Imre Égerházi was born in Hajdúhadház. This hajdú city and Debrecen determined his beginnings, as he studied in these two places and lived among those people who are part of the everydays with their daily work. In addition to his daily work, he took the first steps at the Free School of Fine Arts in Debrecen, under painter and graphic artist József Menyhárt, to develop his desire and skill to create from his early youth. Through his talent and extraordinary diligence, purposeful awareness and self-interest, he became one of those who enriches the fine art life of Debrecen with his creative activity. At the same time, with his work as an art organizer, he tuned into the circulation of Hungarian art life. I think it is no exaggeration to say that this art organizing activity links the work of Hajdúság artists to the art of nearby and more distant European regions at some point. These two activities naturally follow from the puritanical nature and upbringing of Imre Égerházi. His simple nature and upbringing carry not only a need for self-realization but also a need to work for the community.

Imre Égerházi’s fine art work is perhaps mostly characterized by the diversity of his choice of subject. In his themes, we encounter the characteristic motifs that will become dominant by the fact that he highlights them from their everyday life and thus creates a world familiar to them. He also designed his own unique style and colour scheme for the distinctive motifs highlighted in this way. The theme, style and colour blend well in each of his works and create a unique creative world. His colour world also adapts to this particular creative world. He creates his creative world with restrained, eye-catching western colours. His style is simplistic but avoids arbitrary distortions. The highlighting of the characteristics always serves to condense the picturesque experience, to capture the essence.

In his works, we find ourselves confronted with a clean, clear, meticulously edited editing. He spreads the fields wide side by side. He solves their articulation with line systems edited with almost geometric accuracy. His lines fit into a precise structural order, dividing the image field into large blocks, but at the same time capturing the view. With the impetus of his line drawing, he sets in motion and brings to life the depicted landscape, object and portrait. His line system is clear, tidy and well complemented by a colour scheme in line with the theme. Each strong colour gives the basic tone of his expression and the other members of the colour family adapt to it by unfolding the closely related colours, and the concentration of their tone fits exactly with the whole work. In his paintings, he preserves the plasticity of the forms, thus clarifying what is important and what is emphasized in the experience that led him to create.

He draws his subjects from his environment, of course. He paints the landscape with which he can express himself the most, he can tell his experiences and desires. He depicts the Plains, the decaying wells and homesteads of it, the world of Csokonai, Petőfi, Krúdy and a moment of historical events with expressive power. He formulates his experiences in Transylvania with strong contours, which are not only documentations of a decaying, lost world, but also expressions of Imre Égerházi’s human, historical and literary knowledge and experiences. He reveals the fabulous elements, the ballad atmosphere in a clear and precise wording. It is from this world that his motif world has been nourished in recent decades, both in painting and drawing. He himself testifies of his encounter with this world:

“As a boyscout, I first visited Transylvania in 1941 with the school scout team. We camped around Rév, on the bank of the Körös. We went Élesd for meat, took great walks in the area, bathed in the cold, fast waters of the river, sang by the campfires, and made friends with the Hungarians living there.

In the summer of 1956 I was in Târgu Mureş again in Transylvania. I made my first drawings and pictures on the roof of Somos about the winding Maros, the wooden church of the Romanian cemetery. At that time I visited Nyárád, Küküllő, among others; I was in Sovata, Borszék, Gyimes and Csík, and this time I made my first Székely and Romanian friends. After that, I visited Transylvania, Moldavia almost every year, in different landscapes, where I met many people, including artists.

In his critique of my exhibition in Budapest, published in Alföld, art historian Rezső Szíj wrote about my ancestors: “… In all probability, János Égerházi came from the Égerházi family in Mezőbánd, who were well known for their art. János Égerházi, also known as Képíró (an archaic word for painter), lived and worked in this family, under the rule of prince Gábor Bethlen and György Rákóczi the first, and whom created the frescos and wall paintings of palaces of Alvincz and Gyulafehérvár and the painted wooden ceiling cassettes  of the temple of the reformed church of Gyulakuta with his brother István. In their coat of arms, over a triple pile, is a knight on the back of a turul bird. Left hand holding a sword with a cut off Turkish head on its point, right hand holding palette and some brushes. Above it: QVOD LIBET LICET. ‘
Mihály Égerházi is my ancestor, born of Bösháza, and, evidenced by his forename, His descendants arrived to Hajdúhadház in 1712. He received his title of nobility and coat of arms from Mihály Apafi. The coat of arms read: “… arm of a man, turning to the right in the lower field of the blue shield, holds a three-pronged green laurel branch, a ribbon waving in the middle of the field with the inscription: FOR HOME, FOR COUNTRY…”
After the establishment of the Hajdúság Artists’ Colony, due to my local knowledge, I was invited to call upon the Transylvanian painters. I worked hard for Hungarians and Romanians to come, some who would like to work with us. During my journeys of invitation and my time at the Artists’ Colony, I made a lot of friends: Pál Nagy, Oláriu Georghe, András Gaál, Imre Balázs, Frentin Sever, Sándor Plugor, Árpád Márton, Lajos Páll and many others.

I also invited Imre Zsögödi Nagy to the artists’ colony several times, who thankfully declined, jokingly saying he might consider it to accept if we get him a pretty 20-year old girl „servant” and some life energy. Instead, he recommended the youngsters: Árpád Márton, András Gaál and Elek Sövér.
In recent years, the official bodies have been reluctant to hire artists, who paints and draws there. I also had a lot of inconveniences because of this.

After forty years, in August 1990, I was finally able to officially work with Romanian and Hungarian painters in Gergyószárhegy. It was an unforgettable beautiful experience, especially when I think about painting my most beautiful pictures of Transylvania and the people who live there. Transylvania was and still is one of the main determinants of my life and my picturesque work. ”

Imre Égerházi paints and draws, makes linocuts and monotypes. In all techniques, his forms are authoritative, in stylization, in abstraction; he only goes as long as the subject does not go to the detriment of what is being said. His works therefore retain the object, the landscape, the special character of man. In form, colour, structure, he enforces the order of rhythm with a special emotional charge and thus a clear, clear, precise artistic language of expression is formed.

István Lenkey