Oszkár NAGY

(Pecica, 1893 – Baia Mare, 1965)

“The Baia Mare school of painting made Oszkár Nagy what he is today. Simplified forms, emphasis on beauty, different degrees of luminosity, that is, using the right “values”, a perception that puts the picturesque at the centre of the theme: this is what comprises his art” (Sándor Szopos).

Oszkár Nagy, an excellent painter of the second era of the Baia Mare School, undeservedly sank into insignificance. He was elevated to his rightful place in the interwar Transylvanian fine arts by the art historians of our time.

The love child of a Hungarian female chef in Pecica was not destined for world fame, but he had an unbroken career and the attitude of a true intellectual. The Nagybánya artists’ colony contaminated him with painting for a lifetime and Károly Ferenczy, who later became his teacher and mentor at the Budapest Schol of Art, was like a father to him. His college studies were interrupted in his third year of studies by the First World War, and after six months of war service he was taken prisoner in Italy. The art-loving people of the country soon fell in love with his painting and his taste for beauty, so much so, that Italy would become an important stage in his life. In the 20s he returns to this country with a scholarship, courtesy of Octavian Goga, the Romanian Minister of Culture, who would become the talented young artist’s patron between the two world wars. Returning from the front, Baia Mare and Baia Sprie remain his sources of inspiration and his home.

“His artistic career is almost unbroken, his oeuvre is so homogeneous that even his distinct stylistic periods are delimited by gradual, subtle changes. (…) His style, which was formed relatively early, underwent a continuous internal development from the beginning to the end, creating a closed pictorial world that remained untouched by the art movements of the four decades that had passed”. Art historians Zsolt Kishonthy and Jenő Murádin, who analysed the painter’s life and art, pointed out a stylistic unity that can be seen as both a strength and a shortcoming of his oeuvre. According to the authors, the main characteristic of Oszkár Nagy’s paintings is the patchy display of bright colours and light filtered through a dark background.

The two paintings by Oszkár Nagy displayed in our exhibition are great examples of the aforementioned light-shadow contrast and emerging coloured patches, the Church in Baia Mare was created in 1930, and its bright blue dominates the painting just the way it does in the Stream between the Mountains, painted in 1936. The slightly fragmentary arrangement of the stones does not go to the detriment of the aesthetics of the Baia Mare School, on the contrary, the bright yellows and greens amplify the depiction of the mountainous area.