(Oradea, 1885 – Kaufering, 1945)
“Here is one of us who was driven out of school by rebellious dreams, who had the faith and courage to fight for beauty and now well-armed as a young, strong, brave warrior is heading towards, what could be, the most beautiful career. … Ernő Tibor’s paintings demand attention. I stand in front of his pictures, almost shocked and in disbelief: Is this really him?… Those who have witnessed the development of this talent are taken aback by his last paintings. A few years ago, when he had nothing else than a natural talent for colour, we saw how much he struggled with academic drawing. We saw how his lively, fresh sense of colour wanted to get rid of the arresting forms…His sense of colour was even more enhanced by the energetic study of drawing. …And here is the greatest promise for his future development, no matter how fresh, modern and impressionistic his paintings are, there is something special about them, a pleasantly disturbing originality…And this young unrest, this search is a hallmark of a thriving talent” (Ákos Dutka).
This pertinent characterization was given by Ernő Tibor’s friend, the poet Ákos Dutka, also a member of the literary society called “Holnap” (Tomorrow). Together with Dutka, Tibor Ernő, originally Fischer, rebelled against mediocrity. The talent of this emerging artist took him almost to America. The tribute, published in the Nagyváradi Napló on September 1, 1907, is an anticipation of the European success story that the artist lived in the Western world at the beginning of the 20th century, before he lost his life in Dachau in 1945. The extraordinary sense of colour and individualized impressionism of the son of a Jewish wholesaler in Oradea burst into the vast universe of painting with such intensity that he found himself alongside the elite of the Parisian art. Though the dynamics of his paintings was not always appreciated in Oradea, ultimately, people fell in love with the greatness of his chromatics. “A young painter with a flowing mane (…) who with his overheated, feverishly vibrant sunny landscapes, with the energetic figures of the workers toiling in the fields, and his colourful still lifes conjuring up a special atmosphere, stood out from the grey everyday life of the small town.” The critic, Ödön Huzella, was recalling the time when the young man from Oradea was studying at the Académie Julian in Paris with a scholarship and came forward with a surprisingly mature, independent exhibition. Fascinated by the uniqueness of van Gogh and Cézanne, packed with experiences and knowledge, he came home with more than a hundred paintings. He started visiting and painting Brittany in this period, and he was also admitted to the Parisian artistic circles around this time. The recurring lights of Italy made Tibor Ernő’s palette even more colourful and this experience was complemented by his visits to the North, the creative workshops in Balchik and Baia Mare, and the growing number of invitations he received from all around Europe. The wars did not stifle his creativity but put an end to his lifework. He was deported from Oradea to Dachau on May 30, 1944, and died in 1945, nine days before the camp was liberated. The soul of the city, its colourful past, has been, ever since, mourning the master whose paintbrush depicted its most beautiful face for eternity.
Our exhibition features four undated paintings by Ernő Tibor. The independent style of the painter had not changed much since the beginning, it had only become richer during the decades of his creation, which is why it is so difficult to arrange his undated paintings in chronological order. In the Oradea-inspired, extremely inviting paintings entitled Macalik’s Painting Studio and Interior the artist, who immortalized the exterior and interior spaces with remarkable talent, offers a glimpse into two intimate interiors: the birthplace of a work of art – one can almost smell the perfume of oil paint- and a Christmas- scented bourgeois living room respectively. He painted some of the details of this living room on different occasions, so it was probably a familiar place. The Port of Brittany is the fruit of the artist’s timeless love for the French landscape, while Resting in Open Air, belonging to one of Ernő Tibor’s popular themes, captures the only moment of rest in the life of the field worker.