The Artist

Béla Magyar is a Hungarian architect, graphic artist, and designer. Born in Miskolc, he comes from the city which used to be the stronghold of heavy industry in Hungary. The crumbling old industrial buildings are the fading reminders which add the detail to the surrealistic cityscapes.

His true love belongs to the metropolis, Budapest. He has been living there since his early childhood, and his personal development as an artist and designer is completely intertwined with the city´s metamorphosis. This makes his understanding and his knowledge of the details and hidden corners of the city a part of himself and his work. 

Today he has chosen to live among artists in a picturesque small town, Szentendre, very close to the city but providing new inputs on an interactional level.

Béla graduated as an architect at the Technical University of Budapest in 1981. He began by working on construction sites, getting to know the creation from scratch. He then founded a publishing house (Iminfo) editing manuals for the corporate identity professionals. He also worked as an architectural illustrator in Australia in 1986-87.
At present, he works in his own graphic studio (Hársfa Studio) since 1990.
His love and active drawing and painting began in high school, inspired by the surrealistic fantasy world especially of Max Ernst, Paul Delvaux, René Magritte and Salvador Dali. The first pen and ink illustrations were born while studying at the university, and those very first drawings like „The Station” or „When Nature Strikes Back…” established his style – very detailed, finely elaborated line-work. Béla has worked with the primary tool of the architects: technical pen (Rapidograph) till the advent of the digital world. In 1983 he held an independent exhibition in Budapest at the exposition hall of the Hungarian Society of Urban Planning.
In 1994 the”Beautiful Hungarian Book” award was given for the „Pesti Szalon” book series. 1979-1986 – Pen and ink illustrations. Surrealistic fantasy cityscapes with rampant pipelines, chimneys growing like trees, dangerous bridges, crumbling, decaying industrial buildings, people made from brick and construction steel – eating digital letter-pasta. Mostly black and white pen and ink illustrations are drawn with Rapidograph, inspired by the images of the films of Andrei Tarkovsky (e.g. Stalker) and from the absurd thoughts of Luis Bunuel.

1989 – Bird’s eye view maps. Starting with Budapest, the lush, surreal dreams have been replaced by bird’s eye view cityscapes of real cities - looking like illustrations of children stories. Budapest, Hungary, Szentendre – these large (the original of Budapest is more than 2 meters in length) illustrations are map-like cityscapes, but not true maps. They represent the essence, the summary of the city, bird’s eye view through the eyes of the artist. Being an architect, Béla constructed and built the houses, bridges rather than merely sketched them. The buildings stand as firmly as the real buildings because he knows what happens behind the walls and under the roof of the houses. 
Béla tells stories about the city with his ink lines, stories about houses, buildings, buses, underground railway that you cannot see anymore – they were buried, demolished, rebuilt long ago. In contrast to the simplified, faceless, stereotype visual experience of computer effects, his bird's eye view maps have many things for you to discover and to marvel about for hours, weeks or even months. They allow questions to arise in the viewer, they raise interest and arouse the desire to discover all the life depicted in the pictures. 
The drawing technique was inspired by the writing technique of Gabriel García Márquez. The bird’s eye view maps were made with technical pen on tracing paper – nowadays the artist works still freehand but with a digital pen on a tablet.
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