Bela Magyar Architect and Graphic Artist - Budapest Art Maps Cityscapes

“Architect and Graphic Artist”: this is read on my business card; in fact, I am very much graphic artist as an architect and very much architect as a visual artist; I do not simply draw houses, bridges, all sorts of weird structures, but I build them on the paper since I know how they work, then I’m telling stories and tales, using my pen to walk through every corner of the cities I create. The subject of my drawings is Budapest, and The City in general, the metropolis. From bird’s eye view, or tangled in the surreally organic brick and iron jungle, sometimes playful, sometimes ironic, usually black and white, occasionally colorful. When people leave a town or a building, nature slowly retakes it. But what if everything happens the other way around and abandoned cities, iron beams, brickwork chimneys, pipelines come to life, and they mix with living organisms?
The genre in which my works are born: mixed media; pen and ink on paper, then I modify, reinterpret the original design with a digital pen, and finally make prints."

(English subtitle)

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 that add detail to the surrealistic cityscapes...

His faithful love belongs to the metropolis, Budapest. Since his early childhood, he has lived there, and his personal development as an artist and designer is wholly intertwined with the city’s metamorphosis. His understanding and knowledge of details and hidden corners of the metropolis make a part of himself and his work.

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 his own publishing house editing manuals for corporate identity professionals. He also worked as an architectural illustrator in Australia in 1986-87.
At present, he has worked in his own graphic studio since 1990.

His love and active drawing and painting began in high school, inspired by the surrealistic fantasy world, especially Max Ernst, Paul Delvaux, René Magritte, Giorgio de Chirico, and Salvador Dali. The first pen and ink illustrations were born while studying at the university. Those first drawings like “The Station” or “When Nature Strikes Back…” established his style – very detailed, finely elaborated line-work. Béla has worked with the architects’ technical pen (rapidograph) till the advent of the digital world.

1979-1986 – Pen and ink illustrations. Primarily 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. 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…

1989 – Bird’s eye view maps. Starting with Budapest, the lush, surreal dreams have been replaced by bird’s eye view cityscapes of actual cities - looking like illustrations of children’s stories. Budapest, Hungary, Szentendre – these large (the original of Budapest is more than 2 meters in length) illustrations are map-like cityscapes, but not accurate 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 the buildings and bridges rather than simply sketched them. The buildings stand as firmly as the actual buildings because he knows what happens under the roof of the houses.
Béla tells stories about the city with his ink lines, houses, buildings, buses, underground railways that cannot be seen anymore – they were buried, demolished, rebuilt long ago. In contrast to the simplified, faceless, stereotypical 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 the life depicted in the pictures.
The bird’s eye view maps were made with a technical pen on tracing paper.
The drawing technique was inspired by the writing technique of Gabriel García Márquez – nowadays, the artist works still freehand but with a digital pen on a digital tablet.