Katalin Novák: Art is needed even in the darkest times

The Hungarian president praised the role both art and culture play in society, even in times of conflict.

Speaking on Thursday at the opening of an art exhibition displaying the works of French revolutionary, Henri Matisse, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, Novák commented on the ongoing conflict in neighboring Ukraine.

“Henri Matisse knew that his art was needed even in the darkest times, and he created continuously during the two world wars,” Novák wrote in a Facebook post following the event. “It is not different today when the war is raging in our neighborhood. A war that has no winner, only losers.”

The recently appointed president said the opening of the exhibition provides an opportunity to reflect, and “to think about what the war in our neighborhood tells us, which is not just a threat but a reality.

“Artists can make pain, anger, and loneliness relatable. We still need them today.”

Novák also expressed the need for common sense in not tarring Russian culture with the country’s aggressive military action.

“Russia is the aggressor in this war, and the leaders are responsible for the decisions, but the writings of Pushkin, Tolstoy or Solzhenitsyn, and the musical works of Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev must not be discarded.

“We can't put a rich culture in brackets even if we unanimously condemn the actions of the leaders of a country,” Novák said.

“We need Ukrainian and Russian culture and art like we need Matisse, but what we need most of all is peace. I wish the same to those who visit the Matisse exhibition,” she added.

Photo credit: Facebook/Novák Katalin