Donau-Bote, Vol. 15 no. 8, September 1971: “Exhibition of a visionary artist in Vienna“
This exhibition is almost a Parisian story. The “gallery“ is a small shop, only one wall serves as exhibition surface. Around 50 pictures of different sizes are hanging on this wall, extending right up to the ceiling. With any other artist this would spoil the effect. But in the case of Éva Nagy, it acts almost like a key to the secret of her art. It shows the grandiose unity, the homogeneity of her ever-fluctuating art, which is in constant flow. The fifty pictures are welded together into a single, large vision: this is the human flow of the Last Judgement illuminated from within, they come, they flow towards you, they are fleeing from something, filled with Kafkaesque anxiety, inner trembling, violet shadows in the forest of life, and in its translucent reality this forest is the life feeling of the fallen Transylvania. The fatal legacy of this generation. The exhibition has attracted interest outside Austria.
Professor Ernst Fuchs introduces her as follows:
Already, back in the 1950s when I still occasionally used to attend Professor Gütersloh’s classes, I was struck by this unusually sensitive artist. The fine texture of her pictures fascinated me. Later, when I had the opportunity to manage my own gallery, Éva Nagy was one of the artists whom I decided to support. Her works do not belong to the Viennese School, they are not even close to it, yet even then she was my favourite despite the fact that my gallery concentrated almost exclusively on proponents of Fantastic Realism. It may be precisely the fact that she was diametrically opposed to my own inclinations and depicted the labyrinthine underworld of the mothers in the bowels of the earth, and because the subject and its treatment-complementing my inner world-attract and move me, that I was then and remain to this day an admirer and collector of her works. In her recent work-extending the kaleidoscope of introspection and sometimes also leaving it-she has presented us, through her mostly half-closed, light-sensitive eyes, with a view of the environment, landscapes, flowers and people. This turning towards nature and study is, I believe, particularly gratifying, as it arouses the hope that Éva Nagy discovered the rare road to rejuvenation and serenity through contemplation of nature.
Éva Nagy – selected writings about herself:
Born in Transylvania in 1921 of Hungarian parents, I began to paint while I was still in secondary school. Between 1950 and 1954 I attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest.
After the (Hungarian) uprising in 1956, I came to Austria where I received a scholarship and attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.
In 1958 and 1959 I took part in several exhibitions of Hungarian émigré artists in Munich, Hamburg and Berlin. My work received attention. In 1965 the Ernst Fuchs Gallery exhibited my pictures and graphics. Professor Fuchs has supported my efforts since the days when we were both at the Academy and he bought some of my pictures.
Several of my oil paintings and pastels are in the possession of the Austrian Gallery and the Ministry of Education. At the invitation of M. Langlet’s “Atelier International”, I spent a month in 1970 studying in Séguret in the Provence. Subsequently I successfully took part in the collective exhibition of that group of artists.
Kurier, 2 December 1971: “A Fuchs discovery for our coal train”
“Éva Nagy is the biggest discovery of my life. She is better than I ever was and I can only advise all my friends to buy works by her. For firstly her pictures are an excellent investment, and secondly they are the best and most original.” He who wrote these words is in a position to know, after all he is no less than Professor Ernst Fuchs, prominent representative of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism.
Wochenpresse – “How – Where”, no. 50, Vol. 14, 19 December 1971
“Éva is the biggest talent there is among the Austrian expressionists,” says Professor Ernst Fuchs, grand master of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism.
Wochenpresse, no. 11, Vol. 27, 15 March
“To the point” is how the leading proponent of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism, Ernst Fuchs, felt when he saw the portrait that the Hungarian painter Éva Nagy had created. The painter, who fled Hungary in 1957 and took up her studies again, this time with Albert Paris Gütersloh at the Vienna Fine Arts Academy, is the first person to have been allowed to paint a portrait of Fuchs because the master regards her as “an authentic and convincing expressionist”. Along with portraits (for which she is currently on the lookout for further, suitable models who arouse her artistic interest), landscapes and introverted, pensive pictures, she will exhibit the Fuchs portrait later on this spring in the “Galerie 10” of the highly versatile Viennese art dealer, Manfred Scheer. And because “the genuine artistic atmosphere” around Fuchs, who supported Éva Nagy already at the time when he himself still managed a gallery in the Millöckergasse and the impoverished artist was still painting tin foil wrappers for chocolate Easter bunnies, fascinated her so much, she is keen to paint another portrait of the bearded painter. According to Fuchs, “It is necessary to take her pictures away immediately; otherwise she will paint them over again – to save money.”
Dr. Maria Visek, Exhibition:
Galerie in der Blutgasse 1976
She is a living proof that creative processes converge with processes of mental self-discovery: the exciting drama of a differentiated creation proves at the same time a drama of the human soul on its road to self-discovery. The psychological attraction of her works lies in the recurring representation of different conflict situations and makes one aware of the importance of aggression, which substantially influences human coexistence in every form of society.
In this process it becomes apparent that she does not impart an “intact world” in her works, but sometimes, with the “evil gaze” that Karl Kraus drew to our attention, she acclimatises the “all too human”. Certainly these pictures lack even the slightest trace of either cynicism or sentimentality. They depict desire, anxiety and suffering – how they are perceived is left to the observer.
Born in Transylvania in 1921 of Hungarian parents, she began to paint while she was still in secondary school. From 1950 to 1954 she attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, where she also obtained her degree. In 1956 she came to Austria and studied here at the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1959 she won the Austrian Füger Prize. At the invitation of M.L.’s “Atelier International”, in 1970 she spent a month in Séguret, Provence.
SZ Feuilleton, number 17, 21 January 1978: “Imagery as a means of expression – the painter Éva Nagy has an exhibition in the Galerie am Marktplatz”
Social dramas, an apocalypse is the name given by Éva Nagy to two of her works currently on show in the Böblinger Gallery am Marktplatz, along with a series of other pictures. “Social dramas” is the title of two pictures, yet the entire exhibition could be given this name.
The Viennese painter does not seek with her pictures to convey the impression of an “intact world”; however, her pictures are lacking in both criticism and sentimentality.She observes human anxiety, suffering and desire. In her art she reproduces what she sees in her way; bereft of passion, remotely, without ever attempting to force any “perceptions” on the viewer. It is left to the viewer to form an opinion about what is represented before him.
Born in Transylvania in 1921, Éva Nagy lives today in Vienna. She began her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest and later continued them in Vienna in 1957.
Her whole personal fate, the fate of the émigré – living in camps, the masses of people, solitude, communication difficulties both linguistic and emotional – this is reflected in virtually all her pictures. As Karl Herrmann, who attempted to get better acquainted with the artist at the opening of the exhibition, points out, “She has chosen imagery as the means of expression.” Although Éva Nagy studied in Vienna, all her work shows that she never allowed herself to be influenced by Fantastic Realism, by neo-surrealism or any other fashionable school of thought. If pressed to suggest where she belongs, the closest description would be to say that she belongs to the second generation of expressionists. Her pictures, which in their tightly condensed statements seem to burst their frames, often gain unsuspected tension from a group which, contrary to the pastel-like tones, is in strong colours, from overdimensionality which is contrasted in a threatening manner with a group of small objects.
One has to take one’s time when looking at the pictures, as- through many interwoven symbols and forms-they tell the stories of human fates.
Kultur, 8 July 1986
Éva Nagy is presenting an overview of 50 years of artistic creation in Neudeggergasse 6. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest and in 1957 continued her studies at the Vienna Academy under Professor A. P. Gütersloh. The spectrum of exhibits ranges from realistic portraits and pictures of flowers dating from the 1930s which interpret nature in an artistic way through oppressive expressionistic figuration to abstractly constructive works from the 1970s. Subsequently she reverted to picturesque landscapes in which light and mood are included.
Karlsruhe Kultur Deutschland,
Badische Kulturnachrichten, no. 290, 15 December 1988: “The colours of despair”
“At the point where worrying about the fate of humanity ceases, a happy world view manifests itself, the art of art for its own sake”, wrote Éva Nagy at the end of the 1970s, stating that her pictures on the other hand have a somewhat pessimistic effect. „By that I would like to arrive at the point where people are confronted with the danger of a looming world catastrophe,so that they can avert it through a spiritualization of their lives.“ These are the words of the artist who was born in Transylvania in 1921 and fled to Vienna in 1957.
She gained two academic qualifications, one in Hungary, where she was not allowed to paint what and how she wanted, and a second in Vienna under Albert Paris Gütersloh. Her fellow student, Ernst Fuchs, recognised her enormous talent and soon took the talented young lady who had come to Austria with her small son under his wing.
It may come as a surprise that her densely and finely interwoven pictures, wrapped up in themselves yet attractive and appealing, did not generate a bigger response. Here we have the case of a sensitive, non-conformist woman who, rather than working on marketing herself, was more interested in working on her definitive life’s work, which developed out of the experience of loneliness, perhaps of “transcendental homelessness”, out of a labyrinthine sentiment of life. “When someone comes from the school of realism he has a very long way to travel before he arrives at his own style,” says the artist.
This self-diagnosis dating from the 1970s is quite accurate and misses the essence of the complete works, the more recent part of which, with its tendency towards abstraction, was represented by a cross-section well worth seeing in the Emilia Suciu Gallery in Karlsruhe from December 1988 to February 1989. This self-diagnosis is accurate because her pastels, ink drawings and gouaches are about anything but beautiful appearance. It misses the essence of the pictures because they certainly do not have a pessimistic effect. The brilliant colour energy with which Éva Nagy charges her subjects, even when she is dealing with the themes of death or crucifixion, is not unreasonable given those themes, but it is unsettling.
Narrating even the most painful subject matter with a laugh which dampens the intensity of the sensation before it becomes unbearable – that is the gesture of the deeply wounded, of someone tormented by anxiety. Éva Nagy’s complex and boundlessly imaginative use of colour is the smile that slides in front of the despair that is formulated in the graphic parts.
Mothers protecting their children with their bodies from the approach of darkness, everything falling apart, gripped in flight-like motion, the contour of the bodies never closed or set, but always open in a vulnerable way, at the mercy of external forces, and in the profaned melancholy of the mother-child relationship the pain of the pietà is announced.Seas of bodies heave turbulently over the sheets, fleeing or condemned people remain isolated in the anonymous mass. In her later work, she abstracts from this concrete, nervous motion. The oil paintings from the 1960s in turn are proof that Éva Nagy’s vital creative power is not limited to the smallest format.
Tibor Hanák, 1981: “Éva Nagy’s pictures”
The illustrations in the present issue of “Bécsi Napló” (Viennese Diary) are works by Éva Nagy, who was educated in Klausenburg, Budapest and Vienna. Her first Viennese exhibition was organised by Ernst Fuchs, who first discovered her. According to Fuchs, Éva Nagy is the most important Hungarian expressionist he knows.
Her pictures always seem to want to express the same thought; they cannot rid themselves of the realisation that everything is a tragedy and everything hurts. One of her ink drawings bears the title, “In the vortex”. Yet all her pictures express this same idea: the vortex of human fates; beings pressing upon each other and stifling each other. In her work, Éva Nagy provides truly artistic proof of her great sympathy, of her anxious and impotent love. She works with many figures, with the co-projection of many scenes: above all with faces, with aghast, frightened heads containing sunken eyes, like those in Edward Munch’s painting “The scream” or in Ensor’s works. Yet her art is finer and associative. At times the observer gains the impression of being provided not with a cross-section of the mass of people, the life of the masses, but rather with that of the human psyche or the experiential world of the artist herself. This picture is full of fragments of memories, disturbed sentiments, half measures, huge shadows cast by a small amount of light, those of a single group prepared to belong to the commune of danse macabre because they follow the law of the life-pervading anxieties, which does not know any back door escape.
Some of Éva Nagy’s paintings are devoted to religious subjects; Calvary, crucifixions, brimstone rain, suffering souls and bodies, maltreated icons encountering each other in a huge apocalypse. “Dream of evil and redemption” is the name of one painting. One is shaken by these images, but shaken too by the uncompromising seriousness of the artist. Her works are not only the depiction of her suffering but also the continuation of it. Her pictures hurt on the paper.
Wiener Kunsthefte 7/8/1986: “Éva Nagy – painters are buying her pictures”
The artist has a simple Hungarian name – her name is Éva Nagy. She comes from Enyed in Transylvania. One art critic who thought highly of this star of Hungarian painting wrote about her, “Her fate is that of her home country, poor Transylvania. ”Émigré talent is normally not esteemed. And yet Éva Nagy is a painter who is considered as a representative of European Expressionism and whose pictures are bought even by painters with famous names. Thus, for example, Ernst Fuchs, the famous Austrian painter, is also to be found among the buyers at virtually every Éva Nagy exhibition. In his opinion, the artist from Transylvania is one of the biggest painting talents in Europe.
How does Éva Nagy live now and what does she paint? This we planned to find out when we visited her studio at Laudongasse 30. The house is one of those old-fashioned ugly “Bassena” houses which the capital city of Austria was full of at the end of the last century. In these tall buildings as many tenants as possible are packed into apartments lacking in comfort and there are also no lifts. The water supply is in the corridor. Sometimes one has to cart the water quite a long way into the apartment. The apartments do not have a bathroom. The WC is often at the end of the corridor and has to be shared by several tenants. Many of these houses have already been renovated. In most cases the tenants themselves have transformed the impractical apartments. Water pipes have been laid into the apartments, part of the kitchen has been turned into a bathroom and, if there was no room for a bath, then at least a shower has been installed in a corner.
At that time nearly all the apartments followed the same layout: there is no hallway, and one enters directly into the kitchen. From there doors open onto one or two rooms. In Éva Nagy’s apartment, the first large room is the studio. As one enters, one already knows that one has come to see an artist who should be taken very seriously: it is not so much the smell of paint but the atmosphere of the room which is so striking. Everything speaks of her home country, Transylvania: the table covers, the decorative plates, the jugs, the lace doilies which all recall happier times long ago. And naturally the pictures bear witness to the important art of this master. Above the cupboards one picture is stacked on top of another.
Even if the studio were more spacious, if it were enlarged to include an adjacent small room, it would still be too small to hold what Éva Nagy has created in the last 20 years of her residence in Vienna. Portraits and landscapes come to light along with works by other artists. Then, subsequently the artist spreads out her treasures in large folders: thousands of drawings, colour and black and white, produced using different techniques, which are very impressive even without frames. All of this is a large part of the life’s work of a major artist. But only a small part of it is missing. For a genuine artist it is much easier to paint than to sell. (The exceptions are painters of kitsch, who earn a lot more. There are quite a few of them among the Hungarian “artists” in Vienna.)
Éva Nagy studied in two academies; one in Hungary, the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, and after 1956 at the Academy of Art in Vienna (for only as a student could she get a scholarship). But what use is all of this to her? To eke out a miserable existence, she had painted eyes on chocolate figures, two dots on the face of every doll. Then she would paint at home whatever took her fancy. All the while she also had to look after a son; secure food, clothing and school education for him.
In this way 20 years went by – two decades. Her son meanwhile gained a degree at the University of World Trade in Vienna and today has a very good post in Geneva. Éva Nagy’s worries have diminished, but they have not completely disappeared. The agitation of earlier, which also had found expression in her paintings of that time, has left hardly a trace on the new pictures. These pictures are the works of a balanced artist who is still capable to always see the world only in colours, in movement and dynamics. She stayed with what had characterised her before, but she has refined her art, moving it to the proximity of classical art.
When one looks at these pictures, the colourful dance of colours and shapes, it is incomprehensible that these masterpieces are allowed to gather dust on the shelves of the studio, when they could be brightening up other people’s lives, adorning their apartments with one or two Éva Nagy pictures.
Wiener Kunsthefte 7/8/1986: Ernst Fuchs “About Éva Nagy“
Labyrinth: every page a labyrinth composed of human bodies. Finely woven rope to describe the tale of being lost.
Corridors and dungeons in which bodies, sunken together, are concealed are a recurring theme on sheet after sheet; like the intertwined ball of thread with the help of which, one is supposed to successfully explore the labyrinth. Entangled, yet imbued with a secret order.
If one takes a long look at Éva Nagy’s works, as is necessary, gradually the dark catacombs brighten up, and the bodies of those who above were still interwoven with each other by despair, rest blissfully in safety in the entrails of a gigantic mother.
Already, back in the 1950s when I still occasionally used to attend Professor Gütersloh’s classes, I was struck by this unusually sensitive artist. The fine texture of her pictures fascinated me.Later, when I had the opportunity to manage my own gallery, Éva Nagy was one of the artists whom I decided to support. Her works do not belong to the Viennese School, they are not even close to it, yet even then she was my favourite despite the fact that my gallery concentrated almost exclusively on proponents of Fantastic Realism. It may be precisely the fact that she was diametrically opposed to my own inclinations and depicted the labyrinthine underworld of the mothers in the bowels of the earth, and because the subject and its treatment, complementing my inner world, attract and move me, that I was then and remain to this day an admirer and collector of her works.In her recent work, extending the kaleidoscope of introspection to the viewer, and sometimes also leaving it, she has presented us, through her mostly half-closed, light-sensitive eyes, with a view of the environment, landscapes, flowers and people. This turning towards nature and study is, I believe, particularly gratifying as it arouses the hope that Éva Nagy discovered the rare road to rejuvenation and serenity through the contemplation of nature.
Wiener Kunsthefte 7/8/1986:
Maria Visek “Éva Nagy’s art”
She is a living proof that creative processes converge with processes of mental self-discovery: the exciting drama of differentiated creation proves at the same time a drama of the human soul on its road to self-discovery. The psychological attraction of her works lies in the recurring representation of different conflict situations and makes one aware of the importance of aggression, which substantially influences human coexistence in every form of society.
In this process it becomes apparent that she does not impart an “intact world” in her works, but sometimes, with the “evil gaze” that Karl Kraus drew to our attention, she acclimatises the “all too human”. Certainly these pictures lack even the slightest trace of either cynicism or sentimentality. They depict desire, anxiety and suffering –how they are perceived is left to the observer.
Wiener Kunsthefte 7/8/1986:
Éva Nagy “About myself and the abstraction of the world”
The mental development of society and man are influenced by different experiential factors. In my case, my Transylvanian home left its mark on me; I grew out of that environment.
“The activity of the artist must not exhaust itself in merely straining after effects.” That used to be my motto. As I grew older, I revised my attitude towards art: the artist should definitely exert an influence on the public with his works.
When someone comes from the school of realism he has a very long way to travel before he arrives at his own style. Every time it is my intention to conscientiously examine the tasks that have been set. That is why I usually start with naturalistic sketches. The artistic task arises from reflecting on what the abstraction of the world we live in, consists of. Only after solving this problem am I ready to paint abstract pictures. At the point where worrying about the fate of humanity ceases, a happy view of the world manifests itself; the art of art for its own sake.”
Despite this endeavour, my pictures tend to be rather pessimistic. „By that I would like to arrive at the point where people are confronted with the danger of a looming world catastrophe, so that they can avert it through a spiritualization of their lives”.
Oser Bote, no. 43/95: Galerie Kleiner Prinz – Portrait of an artist
Éva Nagy, Vienna
Born in Transylvania, Romania. Degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest. Fled to Austria in 1957. In 1959, awarded the Austrian Füger Prize.
“Her fate is that of her home country, poor Transylvania”, wrote one art critic. “Éva Nagy is a representative of European Expressionism but she has also produced portraits and landscapes. Her pictures radiate a warm, earthy colourfulness and in the densely staggered compositions there is a pronounced tendency away from three dimensions to two, from the figurative to the openly abstract. Life-imbued abstractions.”
Pfälzer Tagblatt, 5 October 1991
“Here we have a sensitive, non-conformist woman who is more interested in working on her conclusive life’s work than in marketing herself. Éva Nagy charges her subjects with powerful colour energy. Narrating even the most painful subject matter with a smile which dampens the intensity of the sensation before it becomes unbearable. That is the gesture of the deeply wounded, of someone tormented by anxiety. The pain of the pieta and fleeing agitated waves in the works speak of the melancholy of the mother-child relationship.”
The mental development of society and man are influenced by different experiential factors. Éva Nagy has been marked by the stamp of
her Transylvanian homeland. She has been living in Vienna for 39 years.
Her motto: “The activity of the artist must not exhaust itself in merely straining after effects. The artistic task arises from reflecting on what the abstraction of the world we live in, consists of. Only after solving this problem am I ready to paint abstract pictures. At the point where worrying about the fate of humanity ceases, a happy world view manifests itself.”