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.”

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