Self-Portraits in Self-Made Masks - János Arany Memorial Exhibition


Self-Portraits in Self-Made Masks - János Arany Memorial Exhibition

Temporary exhibition

The exhibition is opened: 15 May 2017 – 28 February 2019

The principal aim of the exhibition - Self-Portrait in Self-Made Masks. János Arany memorial exhibition -  is to evoke the most well-known conceptions linked to one of the greatest poets of classic Hungarian literature and to provide the visitors information about the poet’s less well-know ‘faces’.

Our exhibition’s János Arany is a contemporary classic. The newish way of representation of his biography and personality is addressed to all generations: to those as well who almost in a subconscious and everyday way use his words and idioms, those who know who King Edward, Ágnes or old Bence was, what the Radványi dark forest, the ruins of Drégel, the oak trees on Margaret Island or the capital’s sinister bridge mean. The poet’s world is being depicted in interactive and modern ways as well so that the encounter with Arany’s works can become a personal experience for students, families and people from all generations as well. For example we can get to know the most important episodes of Toldi throughout an installation which is able to picture the extended reality of it, we have the chance to get closer to János Arany’s metaphors by emojis or we can adopt a word soon to be extinct.

The bilingual exhibition, which is rich in sound records, simultaneously uses the visual tools of both the regular memorial exhibitions and our institute’s original ones. The impression made by the unusual visual composition and the paintings and sculptures of the period which surround the Arany corpus is about to surprise many visitors since not only unknown manuscripts, Arany portraits, illustrations are waiting for the guests but also great pieces of fine arts of the period which can be linked to the poet’s literary topics, the period’s quickly improving photography’s never seen, early memories or the world of magazine illustrations and caricatures. The overall impression of the exhibition is equally determined by the fields of urbanity, public and intimate life, the personal belongings of János Arany,  his manuscripts and family relics.

The fundamental question of the exhibition is based on poetic facades and narrative roles: in what ways Arany was trying to transmit tradition, to make the feeling of belonging to his own nation’s community to his readers an authentic and intense experience.  We contrast the main characters of his well-know lyric and epic masterpieces in order to use the tension of the strange, majestic and satirically poetic masks, the rethinking of already known characters and stories for making the visitor express their own opinion while at the same time being entertained.

‘Who and what are you? that as a fire-breather, from sea-depths you swiftly turn up.’ posed Petőfi the question to János Arany  in 1847 while reading Toldi. This puzzle is still a mystery to be solved: from the rigorous public roles of the notary, the clerk and the teacher sometimes the sensitive, self-harming lyricist seems to be stepping out. The visitors of the exhibition can get to know on the one hand a genius experimenting with various genres struck by sparkling ideas and restless desire to move who on the other hand has a sometimes introvert, sometimes unusually opened, informally humorous personality.

János Arany: Family Circle declaimed by ambassadors accredited to Hungary: