János Mattis Teutsch (1884–1960) is best known for his expressionist work from the early decades of the twentieth century. The work he produced in the first half of the 1920s established his international reputation in the Central and East European avant-garde movement and latterly became the focus of interest for art historians.
After the Second World War his work took on a new momentum. This was the start of his final artistic period and coincided with the establishment of artistic institutions in socialist Romania, in which he took an active part as artist and organiser. His work of the 1950s cannot be described as typical socialist realism. It was an idiosyncratic, sotto voce realism, and was not intended as a servile embodiment of the Stalinist ideal. He was aiming to speak to society, the wider public, on behalf of artistic and intellectual autonomy. Financial constraints at this time obliged him to paint many of his works on top of pictures he had made in the 1920s. When this was discovered by accident in 2013, the owners had many of his pictures restored by removing the later layers of paint. This revealed the early modernist paintings, which have more value on the art market.
For the exhibition in the Kassák Museum, the curator, Szilárd Miklós, has brought together works from museums in Romania and Hungary and from private collections as well as the family archive, concentrating on pictures that have not previously been put on public display in Hungary.