51.5 x 73 cm
Gouache on paper
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by Das Progressive Museum Basel
Through his early works, Imre Bak (born 1939 in Budapest, Hungary) became known as an important representative of Art Informel in Hungary. In the second half of the 1960s, he was a member of the experimental group of artists called “Zuglói Kör.” Today, he is considered one of the most important Hungarian innovators of the Hard-edge movement.
After visiting documenta IV in Kassel in 1968, he altered his pictorial language from a rhythmic form of Tachisme to color field painting, while maintaining hints of spatial illusionism. That same year, Imre Bak showed a “stripe painting” in the Galerie Müller in Stuttgart. This was a breakthrough in the development of his understanding of the relationship between form and space. In the picture, diagonal stripes from the corners seem to transform the picture ground into pictorial space. In the work in the collection of the Museum Haus Konstruktiv, a frame pattern consisting of several stripes is broken at the corners, creating the impression that the interior of the picture is flowing out and also making us aware of the painting’s materiality as an object.
Inspired by German, American, and British representatives of geometric abstraction, Hard-edge artists, and Pop Art, Bak explored how pure, intense colors interacted with austere forms and lines. By merging symbols from European and Mesoamerican cultures with aspects of Conceptual art, Imre Bak developed a unique form of emblematic representation in the 1970s.
In the years around 1980, which were characterized by a growing liberalization, a “new sensibility,” and regionalism, Bak’s work underwent a change brought on by postmodernism. He combined decorative elements from Art Nouveau with the geometry of the Futurists and the free-floating geometric shapes from Kandinsky’s later work to form timeless and metaphysical allegories.
In the 1990s, Bak painted large works in an unmistakable personal style that formed a highpoint in his oeuvre. Inspired by a visit the US, he created a series of “New York paintings” in 1998. These compositions became increasingly flat and eventually concentrated exclusively on a window-like framing of the picture. In these, Bak superimposes elements and plays with perspectives to create a tension between color and the associative, illusionistic effects of space, thus placing both modes of perception in a dialectic relationship. Although his work primarily expresses an attempt to create a decidedly Hungarian version of Neo-Geo, his pictures ultimately do not adhere to this tradition, but rather seem to challenge it.
Dominique von Burg