Q&A with Professor Tamás Szigeti: Covid’s Challenges to Artists and a Positive Change in How Art can be Accessed.

Interview by Angelica Stickle

Tamás Szigeti is an artist and art educator at McDaniel College Budapest. He has studied in Budapest at the University of Applied Arts and in Mexico City at the San Carlos Academy. He teaches painting and figure drawing at McDaniel. On July 1st, he opened an exhibit at A38 and will be there till July 19th.

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Figure 1 Black Sun-2020

 

AS: How did the opening go?

TS:It was fun with live music. It was amazing that up to 80 people attended the show, which is quite a lot. I thought it would be a maximum of eight people because of the virus but people were not so worried about this stuff.

 

AS: I went to your previous year’s opening. Would you say it was busier than last year’s opening?

TS:Yeah, a little bit busier than last year’s, when I guess it was 50 to 60 people. Yesterday. it was more than that. The reason could be the quarantine, as in countries like Hungary and Slovakia, restrictions have been almost completely lifted. People are very happy to go out after three months of staying at home and feeling depressed. It is very good for an artist because it brings more interest to my work.

 

ASHow do you think Budapest’s art scene has been affected by Coronavirus?

TS:Budapest is a tiny little place in the art world. On the one hand, we are one of the few countries in Europe that have lifted almost all of the restrictions. so galleries have no restrictions, like having to wear masks. They say that in November is the latest when Covid will return. Maybe that’s why people so hastily got rid of the masks. This isn’t the international standard. On the other hand, it’s quite uncommon to have an opening in the summer months in Budapest. It’s like a tradition because people go on vacation outside of Budapest in these months. Not only A38 has an opening but I keep receiving emails from other small, contemporary galleries. They are doing their best to create live shows, then online stuff. I am not an art critic but in Budapest terms, I would call it a hasty recovery.

It can also be a positive for galleries because the interest is higher now. But it’s not a global thing, something very local like a village. In this village I call Budapest, I feel it is very positive. But gallerists are struggling. Galleries that are living by the selling of pieces are likely struggling very hard, as are my own activities to some extent due to Coronavirus. It’s harder for me to make money for my family but I wouldn’t say it’s a critical situation in my case. For many artists not getting the income they need is quite problematic and can make some quit their [artist] jobs because they need to fight for their lives. In that way, I wouldn’t say I suffered a lot. I had to work harder than usual but for many artists, it was much harder.

 

AS: How are you affected by Coronavirus?

TS:Focusing on myself as an artist, I look at this moment as a non-mainstream artist in Hungary who has a positive aspect. I don’t have a fixed income, so there is no way to ruin my business in the arts. Therefore, it couldn’t make me more bankrupt. But it’s something specific in my case.

 

AS: What are your thoughts on virtual exhibits?

TS: It is good news that museums and galleries are putting up archives when before they were private and there was no way to browse them unless you bought a ticket and took a look. The consumption of looking at art online is nothing new. The process has been speeded up. I do welcome museums putting up entire collections. I myself consume art mostly on the internet and you can reach very far. That’s what I think of the whole quarantine story Things don’t change so fast, but tendencies get speeded up a lot.

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Figure 2 Villanofenyben-Flashlight-2020

 

His other works are available of viewing on his blog: http://szigetitamas.blogspot.com/2020/06/pillanat-2020-julius-1.html