Tamás Konok


Tamás Konok was born on 9 January 1930 and passed on 20 November 2020 in Budapest. He graduated from the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, where his master was Aurél Bernáth. He moved to Paris in 1959, and later, he also had a studio in Zurich. While maintaining his residence in Paris, he also lived and worked in Budapest beginning in the 1990s. Konok’s first solo exhibition was at the Galerie Lambert in Paris in 1960. He had his first solo museum exhibition in Stedelijk in the Netherlands in 1964; then, he showed at the Lausanne Museum in Switzerland. In 1983, Konok’s works appeared at the Geometrische Abstraktion exhibition together with those of J. Albers, F. Morellet, and F. Picabia. He collaborated with Galerie Schlégl in Switzerland and exhibited his works several times at the Basel Art-Expo. Konok had solo exhibitions at numerous important institutions in Hungary since the eighties, among them the Xantus János Museum in Győr, the Museum of Fine Arts (with his wife, artist Katalin Hetey), the Ludwig Museum, and the Ernst Museum.

Several state awards attest to the recognition of his work: he was the Knight of the National Order of the French Republic (1997), the holder of the Kossuth Prize (1998), and the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic (2004). Konok’s works can be found, among others, in the collection of the Städtische Galerie in Hamburg, the Stedelijk Museum in the Netherlands, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Bern, the Kunstmuseum in Winterthur, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the Ludwig Museum in Budapest, the Hungarian National Gallery, and the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest. His works been included in the collection of the Pompidou Centre in Paris 2024. In 2020-2021, he had a retrospective exhibition at the Ludwig Museum – Contemporary Art Museum Budapest and a solo exhibition at Ani Molnár Gallery, which resulted in the publication of a representative exhibition catalog under the title Vers l’infini. In February 2023, the Ani Molnár Gallery honored him with another solo exhibition, Architecture, to highlight his architectural interests throughout his oeuvre.

Konok’s work is rich in the influence of the international tendencies of painting that stem from 20th-century modernism and avant-garde art. The collages and monotypes of his early period rely on a surrealistic vision and visual elements going beyond reality. Manipulating thin line drawings to model structures, Konok also experimented with geometric abstraction in his mature period. Thus, his early works and nonfigurative ones where he used his own authentic style connect through the role and domination of the line. As the line scarcely appears in nature, it relates to human activity and can express the most abstract, transcendent contents. In Konok’s acrylic-canvas paintings, lines, stripes, dotted surfaces, and form fragments abstracted into signs in two dimensions tell us about the problem of plastic, that is to say, spatial representation. Thus, colors are usually not merely form fillings, nor are they elements of an optical illusion, but they are part of a line-based system.