Gyula Kajári


Gyula Kajári is one of the outstanding characters of the 20th-century Hungarian graphic arts. He was born in 1926 in Ösi, a small village in Veszprém County. He did not know his father, his mother worked as a day-labourer as well as a wash-woman. In 1935 his mother could not undertake his bringing up any longer so she sent him to a home for destitute children. From there he was transferred to different families. His talent in drawing was spotted by a hospital nurse in 1941 and as a result he became an apprentice at Herend Porcelain Factory. He made himself master of engraver and at the same time he filled in the gaps in his studies.

In 1948 he was admitted to the School of Arts and Crafts and a year later he became the student of Sándor Čk and then that of György Konecsni at the Academy of Fine Arts. He got his university diploma at the branch of drawing in 1953.

In 1954 he settled in Hódmezövásárhely, one of the centres of pottery and Hungarian painting on the Great Hungarian Plain and he was living exclusively there until 1963.

This was the time of forcible collectivization in agriculture, which Kajári visualized with unique dramatic character. His drawings are exclusively individual pieces of graphic art. His appliences are charcoal and pastel. Sometimes he made wood-cuts, too. In them he visualized the decay of a certain world in portraying both mankind and landscape. The author of the essay in the present book, Dr. Miklós Losonci, appropriately calls them "black psalms”.

He had a great respect for the persistent, consistent, nation-enriching work of the outstanding characters of history as well as his own contemporaries. He had this respect for the "greatest Hungarian" of the 19th century, Earl István Széchenyi, and at the same time for Dante, Herder, Beethoven, Nietzsche or the Hungarian peasants, workers and intellectuals. The thoughts of his most respected authors and philosophers can often be read in the drawings portraying them.

His art attaches to the intellectual forefathers in an organic way. In his expressive realism the heritage of the German late Middle Ages, van Gogh and the Hungarian realistic progenitors of the Great Hungarian Plain (János Tornyai, István Nagy, György Kohán) is reflected.  Kajári's career is that of a straightforward advance, he had soon found his characteristic individual style. He often worked in monumental sizes,

He made series about the tragic poem by Oscar Wilde, "The Ballad of Reading Gaol", the tragedy and heroism of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 and also in the memory of Csilla Molnár, the Hungarian beauty queen who was driven to suicide,

The resolution of these dramas are his nude woman figures telling about the beauty of life and woman`s body with responsive lyrics.

In 1972 he organized the jubilee exhibition of the Majolica Factory in the museum of Hódmezövásárhely and he also wrote the history of the factory. Between 1975-78 he also drew his favourite subjects on ceramics. These were also exhibited in Budapest in 1979.

He worked in other towns of Hungary as well. He used to spend a part of the year in Kecskemét between 1963-71, in Dunaujváros between 1966-79 and in Sümeg from 1979. During this period he used to work in his studio in Hódmezövásárhely mostly in the summer.

He became well-known in the whole country as a characteristic personality of Hungarian exhibitions of fine art. Many of his works can be found in the Hungarian National Gallery and in other public collections and also in the property of private collectors.

He died on May 8th 1995. He is buried in the cemetery of Balatonakali, a small village in Veszprém County.

written by Miklós Losonci
translated by Molnár Péterné Szabó Čva


My place of birth

The portrait of uncle Kovács


Courtyard in Kardoskút

Sitting girl


Twilight on the riverside