Árpád Szakács — A Fidesz propagandist on a mission to terrorize Hungarian artists

Árpád Szakács has just published the twelfth installment of a series of articles in the Magyar Idők government daily entitled “Whose cultural dictatorship?”. His series aims to highlight how Hungarian public institutions and agencies are still often willing to fund cultural projects that are spearheaded by artists, authors or thinkers not associated with the ruling party or those who are known to be liberal in their political leanings. But Mr. Szakács’s series is about more than questioning the accusation that the Orbán regime only funds its own or those who do not rock the boat politically. Mr. Szakács believes that Hungarian liberals are currently part of a widespread conspiracy, which uses images and ideas conveyed through art to transform public opinion on political and ideological issues.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that the fine arts serve as the strongest bastion of the liberal left,” writes Mr. Szakács in the most recent installment of his series. entitled “Migrant-caressing initiatives with state support.”

The author explains: “While the government is fighting with super human strength to keep the migrants away, a significant proportion of artists, using George Soros’ songbook, are trying to ensure that as many Africans as possible live in Hungary, and as soon as possible….Naturally, they do not put on display the wave of crimes or terrorist attacks committed by migrants, but through a great number of smaller or larger events, using well-composed artistic formats, they try to explain human rights as espoused by George Soros, which demands the acceptance of migrants.”

Árpád Szakács

In this installment, Mr. Szakács specifically takes aim at Gábor Gulyás, a museum director who previously led Budapest’s Hall of Art (Műcsarnok) and is currently the director of the Ferenczy Museum Center in the town of Szentendre. In this role, Mr. Gulyás also oversees a handful of smaller regional fine arts museums and plays a critical role in a town located a mere 22 kilometres north of Budapest that is widely known for serving as a hub for contemporary painters, sculptors and other artists.

In his article, Mr. Szakács scolds the entire Fidesz media, specifically naming the far-right Magyar Demokrata weekly and the tabloid Pesti Srácok website, for promoting Mr. Gulyás’ work and exhibits, for seeing in him a talented professional and failing to recognize his clandestine mission of liberal indoctrination through the arts. “He is an influential and knowledgeable man celebrated by all. There must be an explanation for this, but instead let’s focus on the efforts of Mr. Gulyás’ institutions to ensure that the average person will also understand that it would be important for his neighbour to be an African…”

Some of Mr. Gulyás’s mortal sins, according to Mr. Szakács, include the fact that in 2017, on the Szentendre.hu website, he announced that a key theme of his organization’s exhibits will be the concept of “Home and being without a home” (he uses the Hungarian word “otthontalanág,” which is different than the word homelessness in English–it implies not having a country, so one might use the term “nationless”). In an exhibit focusing specifically on the migration crisis, visitors see a photograph of a child, standing neck deep in water, “greeting the visitor with a painful stare, ” as Mr. Szakács writes. Then, in a prime example of guilt by association, Mr. Szakács notes that the “migant caressing” (migránssimogató is the hideous Hungarian term) poet and author Petra Finy commended the exhibit. But there is an even greater sin within Fidesz circles than being associated with a “migrant caressing” white Hungarian–it is to be seen together with a black man, namely South African artist Mohau Modisakeng. Mr. Modisakeng visited Szentendre for the opening of his video installation. As Mr. Szakács sarcastically writes: “he enchanted Gábor Gulyás and what’s more, Gulyás even took it upon himself to introduce him.”

Mr. Szakács proceeds to provide a long list of artists, authors and thinkers perceived to be liberals who have been seen in the company of the museum director, including ones like Orsolya Karafiáth, Krisztián Grecsó, Ádám Nádasdy and Péter Závada.

Mr. Szakács’s series has a specific purpose that goes far beyond simply ranting. He aims to destroy the careers of artists and leaders of publicly-funded cultural institutions. In this article, he points out that the Hungarian National Bank provided 30 million forints (circa C$138,000) in support to Mr. Gulyás’ institutions in 2017, followed by the same amount in 2018. As soon as the article appeared, the Hungarian National Bank issued a statement, confirming that it has “immediately launched an investigation into whether the Art Capital Foundation used the funds, earmarked for cultural initiatives, for purposes outlined in the agreement.” The central bank then added, for good measure: “the Hungarian National Bank does not support pro-migrant campaigns.”

5 Comments

  1. Well, well, seems that not much has changes since ‘Matyi bacsi’ idejetol ! How right was good old Jack Webb’s saying; ” Only the names have changed to protect the guilty”.

  2. With such absurdities, blatant lies and open threats the crude propaganda of the Orbán regime is getting pretty close to that of the Stalinist times.
    No black car and no gulag, though, only deprivation of livelihood , blacklisting, some trumped up charges by the P.Polt’s abteilung, at worst a couple of years in preliminaries detention or incarceration (yet rarely as the courts try to maintain the rule of law in the criminal system).
    It’s not surprising to those who know how the fascist (or communist for that systems work.

  3. Sorry
    …who know how the fascist (or the communist, for that matter) systems work.

  4. StrandedinSopron says:

    “When I hear the word culture …, I cut off the funding and sack the museum director.”

    “Mr. Szakács’s series has a specific purpose that goes far beyond simply ranting. He aims to destroy the careers of artists and leaders of publicly-funded cultural institutions.”

    Which he may well do but that is not the same as destroying their (ie the artists) work or their value. Hard as they may try, Fidesz cannot control the output of independent artists, poets, writers etc; indeed, as previous historical examples prove, art can thrive in the most oppressive of atmospheres. But artistic independence and freedom is the key.

    The vast majority of journalists that continue to work for the Orbanist State are now merely careerist prostitutes- yes, sure, a small minority like Szakacs actually do believe the nonsense they write but the rest? If Orban tells them a spaceship has landed in Hosok Tere and is handing out 1000 HUF notes to Fidesz voters, they will print it without question.

    I would go further and argue that the same goes for artists or cultural directors who continue to take money from the Fidesz State. They will never have the artistic freedom to produce their best work whilst they take the corrupt shilling from Orban.

  5. Sandor Kerekes says:

    The office of the chief prosecutor does not launch any investigation based on news paper articles, no matter how egregious crimes are documented therein. But the National Bank is different: they are willig to investigate at the drop of any hat, as long as even the flimziest of charges are proffered and they are politically copasetic with the government’s cookey policies.

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