Kálmán Csohány (1925 - 1980), born in Pásztó, was a significant figure of the graphic artist generation of the 60s and 70s. With his coppe...

Artist of the month: Csohány Kálmán

Wednesday, September 07, 2011 rezkarcfitness 2 Comments

Kálmán Csohány (1925 - 1980), born in Pásztó, was a significant figure of the graphic artist generation of the 60s and 70s. With his copper etchings, tint drawings and lithographs he combined the folkloric symbolism with his unique brief interpretation.

As usual, it's worth checking this article from time to time, because during this month it will be updated with new pictures and writings.

Since his early childhood he was always keen on drawing. He recalled a story when he was four:
"Once my mother took me to the market where I saw a beautiful Bulgarian gardener with a huge mustache. My dear mum couldn't drag me away, I got stuck. I straddled there because I wanted to have a closer look at that man. And as soon as we arrived home I drew a picture of him. "Grandmother," I begged "please, bring me a pencil and rubber!" I didn't dare to ask either my father or my mother but I trusted my grandmother, she was my contact person. And I drew but only for myself."

He finished the primary school in Pásztó in a building which now functions as a gallery. He was a student there from 1931-34, where he learnt to read, write and count. He completed his studies at the Commercial Technical College of Salgótarján in 1944. After that his father sent him to Csíkszentmihály to the "Cseresznyés" sawmill to avoid joining the forces. He worked at the sawmill in the mountains of Csík between 1944-45. He returned home in 1946. By that time his mother and grandmother had died and his father had been taken prisoner. He found his sister, Gizella alone at home so he became the breadwinner. He went to work as a platelayer in Pásztó then a coal miner in Nagybátony from 1946 to 1947. In the meantime, his father returned home and got remarried. The children couldn't accept the foster mother so they both left the parental home. Gizella became a nurse in Budapest, Kálmán was accepted at the Dezső Szabó College and The College of Fine Arts in 1947 .

Kálmán Csohány committed himself to illustration from the beginning. He was still a college student when his first illustrations got published. These artworks tetstify a surprisingly mature style. As his thesis artwork, he illustrated Rózsa Sándor, a novel written by Zsigmond Móricz. The commissioning board's decision pointed out Csohány's artistic maturity and exceptional abilities for illustration .

Csohány got several commissions from Ferenc Móra Publishing and other publishers, but he kept drawing for his own pleasure. He put his literary experiences down on paper, he illustrated Hungarian, Romanian and Bulgarian folk ballads. The illustrations of fairy tales were made in the same free way, also the drawings for Anatole France's Thais, Mihály Csokonay's poems, Gipsy songs and for his own feelings, free thoughts and for his poem The dragon and the boy.

After finishing the college in 1952 he got married and settled down in Budapest with his wife. He never really seceded from Pásztó however Budapest became the scene of his life and carrier. Great part of his graphic poetry is connected to the region of Mátra and Cserhát, and to the people of Pásztó - the familiar faces. His works animate the folklore of Pásztó, evoke the atmosphere an the memories of Pásztó.

He said in his memorandum:
"I want to approach the people. I want to represent their feelings with my own tools. My childhood helps me doing that. I know the people of my close country well, but with putting their joy or sorrow down on paper I feel like I approach a universal human behaviour. This is the main goal and point of my artwork."

Az Értől az Óceánig
From brook to ocean
etching, paper
395 × 290 mm

etching, paper
195 × 298 mm

Fenyők között
Among pines
etching, paper
195 × 295 mm

etching, paper
190 × 295 mm

Predator, 1965
etching, paper
190 × 147 mm

Az öregség két arca (Kassák illusztráció)
Two faces of old ages (Kassák illustration), 1963
etching, paper
200 × 150 mm

Látogatás (Nagy Lajos vers illusztráció)
Visiting (Nagy Lajos poem illustration), 1967
etching, paper
197 × 157 mm

Bezárt kapuk
(Closed Gates), 1967
etching, paper
195 × 135 mm

Tört gép és táj
Broken machine and landscape
etching, paper
190 × 150 mm

Books (in hungarian):
Shah Gabriella: Csohány Kálmán
(2010, Somos Kiadó)
Supka Magdolna: Csohány Kálmán
(1986, Corvina Kiadó, Budapest)
Supka Magdolna: Csohány rajzok
(1983, Békéscsaba).
Solymár István: Csohány Kálmán
(2006, Holnap Kiadó, Budapest)
Csohány Kálmán
(1985, Nógrádi Sándor Múzeum-Helytörténeti Múzeum, Salgótarján-Pásztó)
Csohány Kálmán: A Magam módján, Magamnak
(2007, Salgótarján)

Interview, catalogs, writes:
Részlet Shah Gabiella: Csohány Kálmán c. könyvéből

Pásztóiak - Csohány Kálmán emlékezete
Pásztóiak - Memories of Csohány Kálmán
(1997, color, hungarian dokumentumfilm., d.: Pörös Géza)
Elhagyott szárnyak - Csohány Kálmán művészete
Lost wings - Art of Csohány Kálmán
(2010, color, hungarian film., d.: Shah Timor)

not yet

Earlier posts:
Csohány Kálmán
Book review: Csohány Kálmán
Exibithion: Csohány Kálmán

Images and text source: www.pasztoimuzeum.hu blog.tarjanikepek.hu www.axioart.hu protokoll-galeria.hu www.nava.hu


  1. Hello, I have one of Csohány Kálmán's pieces, and was trying to find out more about it. Would like to know the symbolism and meaning, and also an idea of value. It's a tree with an upside down church with birds. Someone roughly translated the title to "The birds flew" Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  2. From "The Geographical Encyclopedia of the Holocause in Hungary", vol. I pg. 467:


    After the beginning of the German occupation, joiner Kalman Csohany and his son went all over town painting antisemetic grafitti in various public places - "All of you will perish" and other similar "warnings" ... On May 16 1944 the Germans herded the Jews to the railway station. The entrainment of the Jews was supervised by the Nyilas, who were very cruel. They aimed to prive to the Germans that they could do the job on their own. When all the Jews were entrained, the Nyilas leader Kalman Csohany slammed the door, shouting, "I don't ever want to see you again.".