Photos and text by Robert Kokenyesi, Ceramic Artist, Beachfront Pottery, Godfrey, Illinois, USA.
During the early summer of 2016 I traveled to the town of my birth, Debrecen in Hungary. This time I found a pottery exhibit in the large local mall, so I went with my Mom to check it out. The title was the IXth International Pottery Exhibit (IX Nemzetkozi Fazekas Fesztival Palyazati Kiallitas). The juried exhibit showed the variety of the folk art based traditional pottery forms, traditional folk motives in the glazing, and also some new directions for these traditionally trained potters. While there is a number of Hungarian ceramic artists who create modern ceramic art pieces, on the part of the Hungarian people there is a strong attraction to the traditional forms.
Platters, chargers, and bowls
Platters and chargers (oversize platters) are frequently made pieces by potters in Hungary. The platters are used to serve food, or to hold fruit, slices of bread.
I like the white base glaze, and the relatively dark floral glazing. This piece is about 25 inches in diameter.
It’s hard to appreciate the very detailed, elaborate glaze work on these pieces.
This bowl has a unique dark, soot-like glazing. The darker and lighter areas are achieved by burnishing the surface.
The rim of this platter is carved very finely through and through.
This piece is charting a new direction by placing ceramic figures inside the platter, and by that changing the utilitarian piece to a decorative piece.
This bowl is a part of a hand washing set. The pitcher and soap dish is to the left. Very unusual purple glaze is used.
The platter on the left is glazed in a very fine pattern. The pieces on the right show less elaborate pattern.
This large charger had a detailed bird and floral motifs in the center, and traditional floral motifs around the edge.
One of the smaller platter with some traditional motifs in the center combined with more modern, lined edge.
Her pieces had an insane amount of carving. Very pleasing to the eye, especially in those dark green colors.
This is a traditional pitcher form. The light body with sparse pattern and the green lip mad eit look very good. In the background is the mall environment.
This an old form. In Hungarian it’s called “Miska kancso”. The pitcher takes on the shape of a human being. Notice the lip is a different color (the hat of the person).
The two pitchers on the right are of the male (in the back) and female (in front) form. The pitcher on the left is very elaborate with four large handles. The glazing is very dark brown/green; typically not used to decorate an entire piece.
More traditional pitcher forms with white base and floral motifs. The pitcher in the back has a lid.
This pitcher has handles that make it look more like an urn. Also, the position and shape of the handles resemble ancient Greek and Roman pottery. The glaze includes soot where the patterning is done by burnishing the surface.
These are about 30 inch tall pitchers following traditional form and decoration.
Other vessels and decorative pieces
The large piece on the right is a brandy (palinka) still, about 5 feet tall and 2 feet in diameter.
His works won the “Town of Debrecen Prize”.
These were rectangular, unusually brown-glazed platter and baking sheets with lids.
Very unorthodox teapot-shaped piece; maybe a modified pitcher?
Delicately shaped and carved bottle.
My best idea here is that these pieces are serving as home altars. No explanation was given at the exhibit.
Intensively-carved clay sheet supported by wood backing.
The original ring-shaped drinking vessel was modified by adding figures to it.
Traditional by shape and by glazing, this is a salt/sugar container, and a butter holder.
These were the most strikingly distinguishable pieces in the exhibit. It is very unusual to see these creations next to traditional pieces. Ceramic decoration for a bookshelf, jewelry boxes are very unique. On top of that, the purple hue of the glaze is also very different from all other pieces in this exhibit. Her works won the “Town of Debrecen Prize”.