(Brasov, 1884 – Brasov, 1960)

             ”The rich colour palette and the interaction of the elements in his compositions place János Mattis Teutch ahead of the most talented new generation painters. His works of art, motivated by feelings and subjective empathy, are lifted by the extensive search for the essence…If we were to categorize the works of Mattis Teutsch in the light of the dominant artistic trends of today, it would find a place among the German expressionists, who give a detailed insight into the psyche” (Lajos Kassák).

János Mattis Teutsch’ spiritual “flowers”, all his paintings, engravings, aquarelles, statues and illustrations, which are not only abstractions but visual manifestations filtered through the artist’s emotional and spiritual world, are expressive and suggestive indeed. How does the son of a Saxon mother and a Szekler father, raised by his Saxon stepfather in Brasov become one of the most outstanding figures of the Hungarian avant-garde and expressionism, how does he become a “painter of souls”? The secret lies in the new spiritual and artistic trends emerging at the turn of the 20th century, which were conveyed to the budding artist via Budapest, Munich and Paris, between 1901 and 1908. Paris played a major role as the contemplative artist was fascinated mostly by Rodin, Matisse and Toulouse-Lautrec. The joys and sorrows of life and the techniques and trends he became acquainted with penetrated his delicate soul and turned into works of art filled with internal tension and an array of bright colours. The death of his wife at a young age and the grief that followed, Kadinsky’s art, meeting Lajos Kassák or Paul Klee, with whom he participated in an exhibition in 1921, Berlin and the Strum Gallery, and Paris again, which remained a guiding spiritual companion throughout his life, all contributed to the great expressiveness of his works of art. A careful investigation of this multi-layered creative path would reveal the suffering and the inner struggle of the artist in his bent, twisting trees clinging to each other, the inner, spiritual development, which starts with the soft colours and shapes of the ”spiritual” landscapes and evolves through the brilliantly coloured wailing years only to settle and give birth to his most expressive series, the ”Soul Flowers.” Then more ample, hardly recognizable, bulkier, more simple, tighter and more constructive shapes, the voices and stingy figures of the war and the revolution take over the inner struggle, ultimately followed by the rounded simplicity of art deco and the much debated socialist realism.

In 1921, the artist outlined the concept behind the Soul Flowers as follows: “My aim is to create abstract art which, living a life on its own, triggers pure emotions. I work mostly on compositions in which the human being serves as a starting point, in its spiritual vibrations, disembodied, serving as a contact area for sensations. The sensation defines the work of art, the rhythmic radiations of which start out from the nucleus of inner vibration. The colourful pieces of art consist of rhythmic movements, contrasts between hot and cold, dark and light, areas of rest, and concentric and eccentric movements, which harmonize in a single target.”

The Böhm collection presents some of the works of art dating from the 1920s, when the artist was at the peak of his career. One can observe the transformation of János Mattis Teutsch’s art, from the Soul Flowers (1920), through the abstract Green-Blue Composition (1920), to the rectangular shapes of the Female Nude (1929) constructively depicting the naked soul.