Imre Égerházi first heard about the legend of the battle of Debrecen as a schoolboy, in his hometown, Hajdúhadház. According to this legend, a group of Hungarian officers prepared the war plan at the Zöldág Inn on the outskirts of the city. Pencil sketches attest to the fact that the conscious boy once conceived of the intention of depiction sometime around 1940. After several versions, now, in the years of the Hungarian millennium, Imre Égerházi has fulfilled his human and artistic goal. Thus, the large-scale panel is based on a summative, mature approach.
We see unusual battle scenes here. Imre Égerházi articulates the legend of the heroic and sacrificial defenders of national independence in the language of painting. This painted legend evokes the freedom fighters of the Battle of Debrecen by associating authentic features with symbolic elements. After all, it expresses the process of becoming a legend itself – the way in which persons, places, objects, things are transcended and then become carriers of spiritual, moral meanings in the national community memory.
He places the motifs on a horizontal surface with a symmetrical division. In the upper lane, he characterizes the setting, with the Zöldág Inn in Hajdúhadház and the Great Church of Reformation in Debrecen. The main characters are grouped in the middle field. General József Nagysándor is surrounded by Hajdú soldiers, the “red bandages” of Debrecen, the officers of the Székely cavalry, the Hunyadi grenadiers and the Polish legionaries. This field and the contacting lower field are dominated by an extensive shape: the real-life wolf-toothed, Áprád-striped, heraldic badges are condensed into a symbolic historical unit. The figure of József Nagysándor and the Russian warlord, Prince Paskievics, appear as interesting highlights. These prominent figures appear as opposites of each other, but at the same time locked in equilibrium of struggle.
Imre Égerházi leaves the unnecessary details. In addition to the symbolic faces, figures and buildings, he includes the battle clouds of destruction and fire, the shattered cannons, and the torn and scorched flags. Thus, no detail distracts from the totality of the symbols.
The flattened surface of the panneau and its noble, simple color scheme also fit organically into the artistic intent. The effect is elevated and evokes a poignant identification – an effect we feel worthy of heroic and sublime national legends. Together with this panneau, Imre Égerházi enriched his own oeuvre, his hometown and the festive occasion of the Hungarian millennium.
August 19, 2000