The specific geography and history of the free-spirited city of the “Holnap” accounts for the fact that Oradea, situated at the western gate of Transylvania, has been a regional cultural and art centre from the Middle Ages until the middle of 20th century, with a short one-hundred year break. It was a place where old-classical and innovative-modernist aspirations sometimes conflicted, but still lived peacefully side by side. It is specific feature of the Partium region that it has been able to create an intellectual and material heritage that is at the forefront of European cultural heritage, from as early as the Middle Ages. It also operated a patronage that brought these high-quality artistic values to life, at home or abroad, then adapting them to the style of the town, examples include the Codex of John Vitéz or the Herma of King St. Ladislaus.
The developed self-conscious character of the city of St. Ladislaus did not send artists away, on the contrary, it brought them together and encouraged them to settle. This explains why the spirituality of Baia Mare soon infiltrated Oradea at the turn of the 20th century either through artists who returned from the colony or through those studying with a scholarship at Hollósy in Munich. “I am on new waters of secrets, longings, pain, (…) The dreams that I had I do not want again.” A quote from the programmatic poem of Endre Ady, who as a leading figure of the young generation – be that writer, poet, painter, graphic artist or a representative of any other form of art- embodied, in his majestic personality, the songs of the new times, the Holnap. In the first decade of the 20th century, Holnap-matinees enriched with readings, music and exhibitions, edified the city’s art-loving audience, who had set their watchful eyes on Paris since a while: In 1909, the MIÉNK (Ours), the circle of Hungarian impressionists and naturalists expelled from the National Salon in Budapest, made a successful debut in Oradea. It was in these tumultuous milieu that the first free painting schools arrived to Oradea, following the pattern established in Baia Mare. In 1906, Hollósy’s students in Munich, who later became Ernő Tibor’s mentors, Ödön Mikes and Jenő Jancsó opened an artists’ training school. Following the First World War, another school, that of Mór Barát and Pál Román Mottl, opened its doors. The two most important schools in Oradea were run by Alfréd Macalik and Ernő Tibor. The latter received students for training in several cycles between 1908 and 1929. World War II put an end to the bustling intellectual and artistic life in Oradea. With the deportation to Auschwitz of the Jewish community, which accounted for a third of the population, the city lost its old image and atmosphere. The age of private schools was also over, public schools took over the education of painting and drawing.