Imre Bak

Imre Bak

Born July 5 1939, Budapest
Lived in Budapest

Imre Bak is one of the artists involved in the creation and development of two leading Hungarian neo-avant-garde group of the second half of the twentieth century, Iparterv and Budapesti műhely. Czech art historian Jiří Valoch characterizes him as a Rationalist "(...) with a precise idea of what he was doing," and who is able to "(...) project his great personal culture into the artwork and reflects his own intellectual background (...)." [Jiří Valoch, Bak-Nádler (kat. výst.), Dům umění města Brna, 1989.]
(Barbora Kundračíková)

painting, neo-constructivism


Imre Bak studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest. In 1958, he became a member of a free group of young Hungarian artists Zugloi Kör (Zuglo Circle, until 1968). Sándor Molnár (1936), Pál Deim (1932), and István Nádler (1938) were the leaders of the movement which declaratively took on the tradition of the French lyrical abstraction and of the modernist icons of Kandinsky (1866-1944), Klee (1879-1940), Malevich (1879-1935), and which was also inspired by the work of Jean Bazaine (1904-2001). The group was formed in 1968 and they jointly exhibited in 1966 (Új törekvések 1966: Fiatal festők bemutatója./ New Aspirations 1966: Presentation of Young Artists, Malév KISZ-Klub, Ferihegy) and retrospectively in the No. 5. Galéria in Budapest in 1993.


Initially, Bak's work was influenced by two inspirations: lyrical abstraction on the one hand, and the constructivism tradition which resonated in the Hungarian environment from the beginning of the 20th century, on the other. The lyrical relationship of lines and coloured areas, which dominated Bak's works in the first half of the 1960's, as a heritage of the previous period (Kék térben/ Blue Space, 1964), soon became influenced by an artificial conception of an internal order (his gradual rationalization is obvious in the Struktúra I-III/ Structure I-III, 1965 free series). In the second half of the decade, it was already demonstrated by a purely geometric segmentation of the painting area. At that time, Imre Bak was actively involved in the establishment of the Iparterv movement (Sávok/ Strips series, 1968). The gradual rationalization of his creative approach was related to the maximum reduction of the artist's gesture – the consequence (or the goal) of the process was the creation of a pure, undifferentiated, coloured area. The result can be considered a kind of hard-edge painting, but only formally: it is a functional mix of neo-constructive ideas and a visual composition with basal juxtapositions of colours, which also include remarkable folklore motifs (Kompozíció I/Composition I, 1967). Yet the subjectivity of one coloured area often dominated the geometrical shape, the emptiness over the fullness, which was characterized by the linear separation of individual colour elements. Most attention was paid to the painting as a principle


Iparterv I (group exhibition, Budapest)


Formation III.
Formation III. (mixed media)

Iparterv II. (group exhibition, Budapest)


Received award from Mihaly Karoly Foundation


Bak's early period ended in 1971 when he enjoyed a scholarship stay in the Folkwang Museum in Essen. The stay culminated in his first foreign exhibition, which was held in the museum (in cooperation with György Jovánovics).
Received grant from Museum Folkwang
Bak-Jovánovics (solo exhibition, Essen)


After 1972, Bak's work was influenced by gradual conceptualization and the related dematerialization which was demonstrated in the emphasis of the concept and mental existence of the work. In 1973, with János Fajó (1937), Ilona Keserü (1933), Sándor Molnár (1936), and István Nádler (1938), he established the Budapesti műhely (Budapest Workshop). Between 1976 and 1981, Imre Bak was actively involved a group devoted to research into visual culture Magyar Tudományos Akadémia/ Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Thus, the contemporary situations and topics of the day were strongly reflected in his work. Bak took advantage of the possibilities offered by photography, especially in the production of greater contrast (artistic geometric shape in contrast to the natural environment, flatness, and colourfulness of printing) and reflected the verbal principles which resulted in the creation of combined works, presented through the media of graphics, drawings, and artist's books. Semantics gradually became the theme within the context of the then topical linguistic turn, which affected speculative sciences and which, in this case, focused on the relationship between the designating (red-word) and the designated (red-colour). Such secondary (and determining) influences of the language on the understanding of things were reflected in the concept of Bak's works. This gradually acquired the form of an utterance: the ornament worked as a sign system and, at the same time, as an enriched aesthetic quality


The greatest gain of Bak's conceptual period was the discovery that the ornament worked as a fully-valued sign which is, as a part of a painting, retrospectively interpreted as an ornament. In the second half of the 1960's, geometrical order returned to his works. Its construction was based on fundamental shapes such as circle, square, and line, along with vivid colourfulness (Vasárnap – férfi – arc/ Sun – Man - Face, 1975/1976). However, such individual elements (square, circle, cross) were newly understood as meaningful and autonomous. In 1977, Műczarnok organized the first retrospective of Bak's work, which also reflected such a tendency.


[Imre Bak] (solo exhibition, Budapest)


[Imre Bak] (solo exhibition, Miskolc )
International Drawing Triennial in Wroclaw (1978) (group exhibition, Wrocław)


The 1980's witnessed a formal turnaround. Bak concentrated on narration and so his works opened up to playfulness. What remained was the vivid colourfulness and a large format, which was used for admitted quotations, development of perspective principles, and organic elements (Hommage á Giorgio de Chirico/ In Honour of Giorgio de Chirico, 1986). With Károly Kelemen (1948), Ákos Birkás (1941), and István Nádler, Imre Bak presented his works at the Venice Biennale in 1986. The advent and growth of postmodernism challenged Bak to innovation
Postgeometry (painting)


Paintings (solo exhibition, Budapest)


Received award from The Munkácsy Mihály Prize
[Imre Bak] (solo exhibition, Pécs)


Adrian-Bak. Pozíciók I. (solo exhibition, Budapest)


Imre Bak / István Nádler (group exhibition, )
Élő mű-vészet: Imre Bak est. (solo exhibition, Budapest)


His early 1990's were inspired by reductionism. References to Kassák (1887-1967) and Kandinsky started to appear in Bak's works. He approximated the principles of postmodern architecture and design in many respects (constructiveness in relation to the spatial illusiveness) (Tao, 1993). However, the revision of his own work was most important for him. It was also reflected in his production which was characterized by continuous monumentality and meditation. The painting became a landscape intended for conceptual reflection (P. Brueghel, 1997).


[Imre Bak] (solo exhibition, Innsbruck)
101 obrazů (solo exhibition, Budapest)


[Imre Bak] (solo exhibition, Budapest)
[Imre Bak] (solo exhibition, Lienz)


Új képek (solo exhibition, Budapest)


Imre Bak 1994-1996 (solo exhibition, Budapest)
Imre Bak 1994-1996 (New Paintings) (solo exhibition, Budapest)


Beyond Art (group exhibition, Graz)
[Imre Bak] (solo exhibition, Budapest)


Received award from Herder Prize
Obecnosc Wegierska (group exhibition, Warsaw)
The first generation of Hungarian neo-avantgarde 1965-1972 (group exhibition, Szombathely )
Music of our eyes (group exhibition, Miskolc )
Hungarian avant-garde of the 20th century (group exhibition, )


[Imre Bak] (solo exhibition, Budapest)
Kétszer tizenöt (solo exhibition, Székesfehérvár)
[Imre Bak] (solo exhibition, Budapest)


The tension of his later years intensified. Bak's landscape paintings, which were typical of the previous period, were characterized by geometrized space, an ornamentation of figures and the monumentality of planes which were arranged in an orderly fashion, one after the other. A new motif appeared in his work: an oval shape floating through the space / landscape of the canvas. Such landscapes also became more realistic. The deep illusiveness of the canvas, which Bak achieved with a specific combination of colour shades, evoked the feel of an urban landscape, which is viewed, by the painter as well as the spectator, from the outside. Colour and light refraction and simple shapes evoke a feel hidden architecture (Árkád/ Arcades, 2000
Imre Bak / Thomas Lenk (solo exhibition, Budapest)
Art in Central Europe 1949–1999 (group exhibition, Barcelona)


Konkret Östliches Mitteleuropa 12 Positionen (group exhibition, Leverkusen )
The bridge over the time (group exhibition, Oldenburg)
Cream (group exhibition, Budapest)
Új mechanizmus (group exhibition, Budapest)
Idohid / Zeitbrücke. Ungarische Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts aus der Sammlung der Gemäldegalerie Budapest (group exhibition, Passau)


Mintha ... [II. Trombitás Tamással] (solo exhibition, Budapest)
[Imre Bak] (solo exhibition, Budapest)


[PRÁZDNÉ] (solo exhibition, Budapest)
Mintha IV. (solo exhibition, Budapest)
Geometria Magyar : Hungarian geometry today (group exhibition, Plzeň)


Arena of abstraction (group exhibition, Leverkusen )
Stúdió '66-'67 (group exhibition, Budapest)
Obrazy 2006 (solo exhibition, Budapest)
Új képek (solo exhibition, Budapest)
Come with me! Selection from the collection of Ference Karvalitse (group exhibition, Budapest)
Re:embrandt - Contemporary Hungarian Artists Respond (group exhibition, Budapest)
Ninety-Nine Years. The Antal-Lusztig Collection in the Modem (group exhibition, Debrecen)
11 from Middle Europe / 11 из Центральой Европы (group exhibition, Moscow)


Zaměřeno na sbírku (group exhibition, Budapest)
Artinact – výběr ze sbírek galerie Paksi (group exhibition, Budapest)
Slovo uměleckého dílu (group exhibition, Budapest)
HUNgarian Art - Expressionistic Tendencies in HUNgarian Contemporary Art 1980 – 2007 (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Mintha...(Arcok) (solo exhibition, Budapest)
Geometrische Kunst in Malerei und Bildhauerei Imre Bak, Sándor Kecskeméti (solo exhibition, Augsburg)
Příběh pokračuje… (solo exhibition, Budapest)
Tisztelet Kassáknak III (group exhibition, Nové Zámky)
Living Color (group exhibition, Budapest)
Hommage à Kassák 120/40 (group exhibition, Bratislava)
White & Black (group exhibition, Budapest)
Prague Biennale 3 - Global and Outsiders: Connecting Cultures in Central Europe (group exhibition, Prague)


Új képek (solo exhibition, Budapest)


Včera, dnes, zítra (solo exhibition, Budapest)


Ludwig Goes Pop + The East Side Story (group exhibition, Budapest)


Crossing Borders (The Grüner Collection) (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Imre Bak: Ön - Arc - Kép 2017 (solo exhibition, Budapest)


Imre Bak: Works 1967 - 1981 (solo exhibition, Budapest)
BAK 80 (solo exhibition, Budapest)

Muzeum umění Olomouc 2011-2022