József SZURCSIK

József SZURCSIK

Contemporary Art from Hungary 12.

2010-09-30

Nagy T., Katalin
Art of József Szurcsik

The earliest picture the artist preserved is a full-body self-portrait painted on the board of a schoolbench. He painted it at the age of eighteen in the year 1977. He graduated as a decorative sculptor from István Tömörkény Fine and Applied Art Secondary School [i] in Szeged that year. In the painting a young guy is depicted at the end of his bed while turning towards the viewer above his right shoulder. He is standing in a three-quarter position, but only his profile image is lit by light; he has long hair, a small moustache, and he is holding a brush in one hand and a paint dish in the other. The viewer cannot see the painting the artist is working on as it is not important. It is not YET important; the only thing that matters is the fact of painting. The aim of painting is the activity itself, and the artist only rests on the bed to stop painting for a while.
Although the image radiates his determination to become a painter, the artist was not admitted to art college for years due to personal conflicts and prejudices. Just before the point of total surrender, instead of applying for painter major, he applied for graphic arts at the Hungarian College of Fine Arts, and was finally accepted in 1982.
His first successes came with record sleeve designs. In 1981, his design for the band called ‘East’ from Szeged won the prize ‘Best Record Sleeve Design of the Year’. He won the same prize in 1985.
In 1985 some decisive motifs of his art emerged for the first time. In one of his college works, a characteristic profile of a man with crew-cut hair appeared (Brothers), while the motif of space enclosed by walls also made its first appearance (Through the Window, Sounds from the Wall) that year. In 1986 the strict, agressive-looking profiles already depicted human features and relationships.[ii] This was the time when the artist’s critical voice on the petty nature of mankind appeared in his early allegoric compositions. The themes he chose (Indian Sphinx, Janus) reflected the artist’s interest in Egyptian and Antique arts. All the seeds of basic Szurcsik symbols could be traced in these images.

In the following chapters the art of József Szurcsik will not be unveiled in the usual chronological order; rather the themes concerning the world of his images will be examined.[iii].

From Sacred Geometry to Antique Myths

In 1973-1977 the artist attended István Tömörkény Fine and Applied Art Secondary School in Szeged where great emphasis was put on Renaissance studies. Although, it had no stylistic effect on his paintings, it might be due to those years that the artist was attracted to Antique mythology and geometry.
It might be worth noting at this point that portraiture was established and mastered by Italian Renaissance masters. The forerunner was actually the sculptor Mino Fiesole, who became renowned for his portrait reliefs depicting people from face-view, yet works of painters such as Alesso Baldovinetti, Piero della Francesca or Ghirlandaio should also be mentioned here. Artists inventing strict, face-view portraiture might have got inspiration from Roman coins. I am not suggesting that Szurcsik’s characteristic strict profiles stem from Renaissance portraiture, but it surely had an impact on his art.
Szurcsik seemed to be interested in another field connected to Renaissance art. Although he rarely used it, a metamorphic profile image hidden in landscape could be traced in some of his works, just as in the piece entitled Waiting. The same technique was used by artists such as Dürer or Schongauer.
The viewer can find both dramatic and playful metamporhic imageries in the artist’s oeuvre, yet he explained in an interview that the use of sharp profile images was primarily due to the fact that profiles never lied. From the second half of the 1980s profile images became trademark features of his works as he indulged in the depiction of relationship between the individual and political power. The profile image was always more reserved and objective than the facing, yet the person depicted in profile-view was always defenceless since he either did not realize to be stared at, or merely endured the staring.

From 1985 onwards male profiles were present in Szurcsik’s works, and gradually they were combined with ordinary objects or even geometric shapes; one such shape was the spiral and the solid forms deriving from it. The spiral motif first appeared in 1986 on a graphic work that depicted a male portrait with a crew-cut hair. Later in 1989, it also appeared as an illustration to the novel-journal entitled ‘Rocket’ (Rakéta). The drawing showed an angular, winding, spiralling edidfice placed on a quadratic ground-plan. The stepped ziggurat and the spiralling ramp system highly evoked the architectural solutions of the Biblical Tower of Babel.
A good example of such an edifice is the minaret Malwiya (shell-shaped spiral) of the Samarria mosque in Iraq, dating back to the 9th century. It is a 52-metre-high tower that spirals up in a helix. There was no chanting of the muezzin from this tower; it was a symbolic edifice manifesting the power of Islamic faith – just like the Tower of Babel symbolising the lust of mankind for power.
One of the illustrations the artist made to György Konrád’s novel ‘The Founder of the City’ (IV) was somewhat like this strange edifice. The novel - based on sociological studies on town-planning – is an inner monologue full of metaphors and allegories in surrealistic style. Szurcsik in his illustration wished to create the atmosphere of the writer’s visions. He based his images on expressions like ‘pyramid-like old power station’ or ‘authority-based architecture’.
The illustrations made to Konrad’s novel established a definite trend in Szurcsik’s world of images and symbols. The novel itself had a decisive impact there as Carlos Fuentes (V) in his introductory words to the foreing publication of the book put it: ‘In his novel Gy.Konrád describes the most hideous aspects of modern city planning, which is just an undeclared war by architects on city dwellers. It is the manoeuvre of the tricky ones against the real figures of city life; while planning ‘happiness’ for them, they end up creating misery.’

The first decade of Szurcsik’s art could be characterized with a critical tone to the relationship of the individual and political power, where the individual was exposed to those in power, lived under pressure and might be forced to use crooked means to find his way in life. In the ‘70s and ‘80s political power was held by bureautracts and technocrats; the individual either was willing to take part in their deeds or they had to leave the ‘battlefield’. Szurcsik in his paintings gave a grotesque picture of the individual’s possible behaviour in this society. The artist often used verbal metaphores to create image-metaphores in his works, thus uniting reality with surreality and rational with irrational. The most impressive examples to be mentioned here are ‘Toadies’ (1990), ‘Torrent of Words’ (1991), ‘Exquisite Taste’ (1991) or ‘Determination’ (1991), all representing the main types of technocrats..

Let us get back to geometrical motifs. Using angular and arched forms on walls and steel in ‘Trap I and II’ (1993), the artist produced his best in this field. He used the same theme in a lithographic version where the wall-creatures floated on water. Thus trap could be connected to fish-baskets representing a labyrinth for fishes..
Spiral in Szurcsik’s interpretation could model life-situations and trends upwards, downwars and inward. It also could symbolize time cycles or scales like in ‘Pentatonic I’ (1997) where we can see face-profiles practising the scales on the different levels of a sound tower.
The geometric view suggests order in the world where we are but puppets of a supreme power. In Szurcsik’s universe a certain geometrical order prevails that makes his creatures timeless, their fate pre-determined.

Achronism was another artistic tool he used to turn away from present day reality. Due to his possible disappointment in the change of the political regime or the approaching millennium, at the end of the 1990s Szurcsik turned to the Antique.
In 1998 he painted his first mythological pictures initiated by Greek mythology. He produced a series of paintings entitled ‘Apollodorus’ Mythology’
From that time on antique themes were present in his work.
As the millennium was approaching, delusions, false prophecies appeared, but philosophy also got into the limelight. Szurcsik felt an urge to find a fix point in that turmoil and found Antique philosophy and mythology. However, his turning to ancient Greek culture could be also a sign of his artistic seclusion.
To fully understand his works between 1998 and 2000 we might need a handbook on mythology, especially on Apollodorus, Ovid, Homer and Diogenes. I would like to pick some of the ample works.
In 2002 the artist painted ‘Amphion and Zethus’ as part of the series ‘Sons of Zeus’. Amphion and Zethus were not among the best known myrhological figures, though they were mentioned in Ovid’s ‘Metamorphosis’ and in Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ as well.
Reading about the ordeal of the twins, we can understand what made Szurcsik use their story. The twins were the methaphoric symbols of physical and mental energy. Born from a secret relationship of Zeus and Antiope, they had to fight to reach their destination: to become kings and build the strong city of Theba. Zethus used his Herculian strength to move stones and rocks to build the city while Amphion was able to move stones with the help of music, playing his golden lyre. Here we could meet the two important motifs in Szurcsik’s art, namely building walls and the power of art.
(Apart from the story of the twins, it is only the Orpheus myth that speaks about the power of art.)
Amphion’s story was painted first by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo in 1723. It was painted in fresco in Venice in Palazzo Sandi-Porto (Cipollato). In the middle of the work he painted Amphion with his lyre, on the right there was the wall being erected and there were the stones floating in the air everywhere. Though Szurcsik had never seen the fresco, in his work he seemed to have developed the image of the Italian master, enriching this allegory.

The motif of floatation first appeared in his oeuvre in 2006. It figured in numerous paintings in 2007 (Floating at Dawn, Autumn Floating, Place Seekers) and in 2008 (Wiseman, Family, Researchers, Celestial Bodies, Longing for Light, Alone, Cold Dawn, Future Seekers, Melancholy, Floating, Floating Trap, Desert). This motif may have initiated his interest in the Renaissance-based tondo. It was composed on a circle and needed a view different from the one applied in case of an angular-based picture. It was rotatable, which was a challenge to the artist. Being rotatable, there were no up and down, and a kind of weightlessness prevailed, which was represented by floatation.
Floatation is physically impossible for us humans; however, it is possible in our minds. And it is art that may provide us with this unique experience.
Szurcsik is a real artist who belives that he is able to use his art to contribute to the building of the Babel tower of mankind. Though it is known that the tower is demolished from time to time, Sysyphoses are needed to rebuild it.

Architecture from Wall to Wall

Architectural environment has a great visual impact on a child. József Szurcsik spent his first years in Angyalföld, an industrial district, which highly influenced his visaul world.
The industrial districts of Budapest formed in the 1920s, in Angyalföld mills and buildings for machine industry were erected. By the 1950s this part of Budapest developed into one of the most important industrial discricts. Industrial and dwelling places mingled here as a characteristic feature of the place. The motifs of this district - brick buildings, factory chimneys, cramped dwelling places for working class people – often figured in his works; for example in the one entitled ‘Factory’ (1989), where the smoking chimneys turned into a threatening labyrinth. We could find brick walls in numerous paintings and grafics Edifice (1991), Chimney (1991), Arch of Triumph (1991), Fortress (1991), Stage (1992), Fortress (1993), Liberation (1993).
The theme of the relationship between the individual and society was first depicted by expressionist movie films. Fritz Lang made his futuristic film ‘Metropolis’ about the city and modern man in this theme. It seemed science fiction at the time of its shooting, but has become reality by now. The film had a great influence also on Alan Parker, who made the film ‘The Wall’ in 1979 about ‘Pink Floyd’. Georgio Moroder in his film in 1983 (VI) and the rock band “Queen’ in 1984 used the images of the Lang film in their video klip ‘Radio Ga-Ga’, respectively.
Szurcsik was seeking his artistic way these years. He made his first graphics in 1985, where the motif of the wall emerged (Through the Window, Sounds from the Wall).
In Lang’s film the faceless average man was basically shown from behind. The film showed many similarities with Szurcsik’s art in its early period where we could trace geometrical composition, architectonic view, and the approach of the expressionist film involving roughness, poster-like features, formal exaggerations. And the theme in focus was always the individual in society.
Lang and his contemporaries blamed the machines for turning individuals into a mob; Szurcsik blamed the political power for manipulating the individual with mechanical tools to turn them into a faceless mob.
Two graphics of his bore the closest influence of the film ‘The Wall’: ‘Panels’ and ‘Bricks’, both from 1989. This was the first time that the artist used motifs in series. He either repeated the same motif again and again (Straight Road, Sword-Swallower, Chimneys (1990) or used a formula of motifs (Cannibal Song (1990), Co-Exsistence, Wall of Sins (1991)). The motifs figuring in an unfinished composition suggested that what we could see was part of the whole, just some figures from the crowd (Invertebrates, Straight Road (1991)).
It is not necessary to use a lot of figures to depict multitude. Egyptian artist knew this, for them three meant multitude. (Egyptian art had also an impact on Szurcsik’s ouvre.)

A basic component of Szurcsik’s works is the Janus-faced wall, which indicates his deep interest in architecture. It is Janus-faced because it protects and excludes at the same time. This wall is built by ourselves and we ourselves are the wall. It devours us. But is it worth trying getting behind the wall? Is there any difference between the notions of in and out? Is there any difference between being walled or living as a wall-creature? To peep in or live in voluntary exile or in seclusion – these are some of the questions the image of the wall may initiate.
The motif of the wall has several meanings and evokes many associations. We spend most of our life among walls, alone or in company. There are several famous and important walls in the world: The Great Wall of China, the Weeping Wall in Jerusalem, the destroyed wall in Berlin, and the wall between Israel and Palestine.
The antropomorph wall motif in Szurcsik’s art has become self-supportive during the years.The wall-Titans are the combinations of the same creature, they may be solitary figures or appear in pairs, they carry no personality, they are faceless and indifferent to the world around them.They suggest the presence of many others, however they are the only visible participants. We see them in half-total, and at the edge of the picture a friction of the joining element can be seen. Though the viewer never gets a full total, we still have an impression of the whole. The depressing metropolises made up of empty containers, damaged towers of Babel, stairs that lead nowhere, shapeless architectural forms seem to have grown out of nothing. The perspective shows the humanoids, which are made of wall or erecting from walls, as real and monumental. These strange wall-creatures carry the past, present and future in their pitiable existence.
However, there is a possible different interpretation of wall-creatures. According to Oriental philosophy, harmony in the world is based on the balance of yin-yang. An artist’s aim in his work is to reach this harmony. Szurcsik’s wall-creatures are always males, though they represent universal features. In his poem ‘Salve Regina’, Sándor Weöres clarifies this problem: according to him the wall symbolizes the female essence, it surrounds us, thus protects us. He writes.’Your living body protects you as a wall’ (Note: translator’s English version) Thus Szurcsik’s wall-creatures represent the female principle while the male profiles stand for the male principle in his ouvre.

Speaking about the architectural feature of Szurcsik’s art, his new approach to space has to be mentioned. It appeared first in 1997 in his plane images ‘Trap I and II’, in 1998 in the pieces of ‘Apollodorus’ Mythology’, and in 1999 on his series of ‘Titanflow’. There he used a refined ‘trompe l’ oeil’ solution to enlarge space. He eliminated the rectangular shape of the frame for the canvas to create a relief image. This method to create the illusion of space was used by George Peck in the 1970s (VII). However, Szurcsik basically used geometry to create his own illusion of space. An important feature of these works was their playfulness to deceive the eye.

There were almost no works made with architectural hints between 1991 and 2000. In this period he worked on turning his tools into specific Szurcsik items.
In 2000 he visited an exhibition in New York, and then re-visited the city from time to time. These visits influenced him to turn to architecture again. Interestingly enough, he found a lot of similarities between the industrial architecture of Angyalföld in the 1920s and that of New York with its high-rise brick buildings. He took an interest in the walls with blind windows as well. His images from 2003 resembled the Fritz Lang approach the most.

Memorials to Everything and Everybody

The title of this chapter was initiated by Erika Molnár who wrote. ‘Memorials appeared on Szurcsik’s work at a very early stage including graphics (Orator (1987), Carriage (1989), Small Idol (1989), Memorial with Sword (1991)) and paintings (Arch of Triumph (1991), Fortress (1993)).Later he used more and more memorials as if he wanted to give one to everybody…’
But before examining the memorials depicted in landscape environment after 2005, I would like to mention an unusual group in Szurcsik’s work of art – painted tools of different kinds. (VIII) The Museum of Literature Petőfi owns manuscripts, pieces of art with literary reference, but also the personal objects used by artists. These objects have authenticity only in the environment they used to function in, otherwise they have little or no value.
This above fact may have given the somewhat ironic idea to Szurcsik to ‘immortalize’ his own tools by painting images on his used painting tools. This may remind us of Duchamp’s travel bag with all the miniatures of his works in it. Szurcsik’s tools could also be put into one small bag; having seen the tools we should be able to recognise any of his works.

Preparing for the millennium, conscious thinkers looked back on their past, especially at the 20th century. In the 1980s there were more competitions for memorials including numerous works commemorating the holocaust. After the change of the political regime many of the old memorials disappeared, however, many more new ones were erected. In his study Arthur Danto (IX) explained the importance of memorials as follows: ’Memorials mark events worth remembering and embody the myth of the beginning. Memorial grounds ritualize our memories and show how mortal we are…Memorials make heroes, triumphs and victories part of our everyday life. A memorial ground is a piece of land out of the flow life where we can pilgrim to and remember our dead in glory. Doing so we express respect to ourselves.’
Szurcsik’s walls with male profiles always possessed a memorial-like atmosphere, thus, I would call the edifices that appeared in landscape environment memorials. These works were produced in the first decade of the new millennium: Guardians of Truth (2005), Wiseman of the Ganges (2006), Ruin by Night, Panels of Ruins, Hiding Place I - III (2006). Almost all the works from 2007 were of memorial type.

Memorial and landscape were depicted together in 1991 for the first time. In ‘Arch of Triumph’ the landscape was not emphatic, as it was hardly noticeable in the background of ‘Hostile’ as well. In some pictures from the first half of the 1990s, nature and man-mad environment were in balance. In ‘Fortress’ or ‘Echo’ (1993) the symmetrical edifice standing in the water or the wall-creature and the huge range of mountains created a grandiose composition. However, Szurcsik lost interest in landscape in the second half of 1990s, and he renewed it only in the new millennium. The first picture - ‘The Damned I’ - in this new genre was painted in 2005. In the foreground we can see three dignified stone creatures turning towards each other in a familiar environment: the landscape gackground of ‘Sleeping Venus’painted by Giorgione[x].
From 2006-2007 onwards Szurcsik used landscapes painted by Nicolas Poussin, Caspar David Friedrich or Constable, and also the works of Hungarian landscape painters such as Károly Markó, János Hofbauer, Antal Ligeti or Károly Telepy. Here the ruins or tombs in the landscape represented the past and history while nature was to personalize the supreme power of God in creation.With Szurcsik, landscape became a living organism where Man does not belong. Humans turned into their own memorials in their bunkers built by themselves. According to Louis Carrogis (Carmontelle), 18th century garden designer ‘A park has to unite all times and places.’ In Szurcsik’s ‘parks’ memories of the past, desires of the present, reality and dream seemed to be united.

English garden design was born to contrast the strict geometry of French gardens. Another feature initiating Romantic garden building was the birth of neo-mysticism versus the racionalism of Enlightement. On the one hand, garden became the symbol of Paradise on Earth while on the other hand it meant a separation from reality. The situation in our modern times is similar. Modern man is to live in the world of technical civilization with urbanization, virtual reality, reality shows, etc. We lack emotions and spirituality, and our life is full of placebos for real values. Szurcsik found peace in depicting landscapes, the only true reality now. Instead of his figures of bureaucracy painted in the 1980s he started to create wisely-looking gardeners who look out for contemplation and solitude.
The landsceape environment provided a good background for the wall-creatures, it let us feel their real size and thus their dignity, which could be compared to that of Monument Valley in Colorado.
The ‘memorial in landscape’ trend could be best characterized by the words of Hannes Böhringer (though he spoke about ruins, Szurcsik’s edifices as forgotten memorials could be taken for ruins):’Ruins remind us of the ephemeral character of all things. They were thought of as disquieting in the past but today we find them comforting: they represent a time when real ruins could emerge. Posthistoire represents the uninevitability without ruins. However conscious of modern destroying techniques we are, we also have to face that uninhabited wasteland remains after modern detruction. No ruins will be left. And the whole process is part of the inevitable destruction of nature by Man.’[xi]


Innovations in Graphics

Finally, I would like to mention some of Szurcsik’s unique technical skills both in graphics and painting. [xii]
Before his college years he could acquire the technical skills of his art. By the time he started his college studies he had already made illustration to medical books, worked for the National Museum making illustrations for its arms collection, worked for Pannonia Film Studio as well.
Working with record sleeves, he got acquainted with design graphics and print operations. As a college student he looked for new ways in graphic technique. These new methods could be seen in ‘Feast’, ‘Straight Road’, ‘Information’ (1989). He was deeply intersted in the art of lithography. In 1991 he produced his 10-piece series in lithography ‘Memorial with Sword’, for which he was awarded the main prize of the 15th Graphics Biennale in Miskolc. In the 1990s several other series in lithography were produced, for example ‘Guardians of Dreams’, ‘Soul Confined’, ‘Garden of Sigh’(1993) and ‘Trap I-II’ in 1997.
Using the computer, he elaborated a special technique in 2005. With this new computer technique he was able to produce lithography-like effects, which impressed his colleagues as well. Szurcsik described this technique as follows: ’My graphics were made by a computer-aided reproduction technique. I did not use any traditional method here. I drew the drawings with the help of an electronic pencil that is Wacom Tablet. Thus these works are neither reproductions of any of my analogue works nor scanned. I did not use any of the effects offered by the computer. I drew the different colours of the graphics on different layers in Photoshop programme, then I printed them one by one on Fabriano water-colour papers of 200 gr. For example, in case of a six-colour graphics I printed six times on the same paper, colour by colour, as in case of any traditional method. This printing method resulted in an exciting piece just as in case of traditional processes. Printing on the same paper several times may result in the shift of the printing forms, thus there are no two final prints that could be the same. The final image is provided by the drawings of different colour on the same paper. (XIII) (Descents to Hell (2005)).


Closing words

József Szurcsik is one of the determining members of the generation of artists having started their carreer in the 1980s. His art is not to be linked to any of the prevailing ideologies or schools of the time. Mythology and the characteristic motifs present in his ouvre connect him to postmodern attitude to life. In his early period he was interested in the relationship of the individual and society, he used his wall-creatures to watch human nature and the distortions in the world. According to him, character gets visible on the face, so a faceless person becomes part of the mob. Profile people have no personality and they are easy to manipulate, thus they represent danger. Szurcsik called our attention to this danger in his works. After the turn of the century the artist followed a more introvert trend, turned to seclusion, buildt bunkers, and erected walls as if he wanted to take on all the sins of mankind. His torture came to an end in the first decade of the new century; he found peace in nature as his wall-creatures, in the form of memorials, found asylum in landscapes. Scourging, repenting and compassion have been the stages in Szurcsik’s art.
I wonder what is to come.

[i] Art historian Erika Molnár, and other artists, such as Balázs Kicsiny, Tamás Kopasz and János Kachelmann (now living in Berlin) also attended the same secondary school.
[ii] In 1986, his writer’s friend, László Császár emigrated to the Netherlands and there with his friends they established the talkie journal entitled Hangar (Hangár). The characteristic Szurcsik profile first appears on one of their cassette covers.
[iii] Art historian Erika Molnár was a great help in my work, I would like to thank her for that.
[iv] The novel was first published by ‘Magvető Kiadó’. It was heavily censored. However, very soon a full version was available in private circulation. The director of ‘Magvető’ Publishing House became the editor of ‘Rocket’ (a monthly paper publishing novels), so the version published here was also the shorter one. The first full version of the novel was published by ‘Pesti Kiadó Szalon’ Publishing House.in 1992.
[v] Carlos Fuentes Mexican writer (1928)
[vi] He added modern pieces of music such as Loverboy, Freddie Mercury, Bonnie Tyler and Jon Anderson.
[vii] George Peck’s works were unknown in Hungary. He had his first exhibition in Kiscelli Museum in 2002.
[viii] Some painting tools are mentioned here with their nick-names.
[ix]Arthur Danto: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The Nation, 31 August 1986
Quoted byYoung, James E.: Tissues of Memory (Az emlékezet szövete) (Past and Future, 2003/4) translated from English by Sebes, Gábor; http://www.multesjovo.hu/hu/content_one.asp?ContentID=18
[x] According to some sources, owing to his early death, the painting was not finished by Giorgone but by Tiziano. Tiziano’s early painting entitled ‘Noli me tangere’ has a background with the same landscape.
[xi] http://www.c3.hu/~tillmann/forditasok/Bohringer_Kis%E9rletek/romok.html
[xii] Owing to the small volume of the monography, a lot of things could not be mentioned, including the dramatic ‘Fish’ series made on the occasion of his mother’s death (this was interpreted as ‘dance macabre’ by Erika Molnár), the lyric pieces of the ‘Garden of the Magician’, and the steel sculptures made in Kecskemét at the Symposium on Steel Sculptures.
[xiii] Descents to Hell series: The Gardener, Together, Twins, Hiding, Company, etc.


1959 Born in Budapest.

1980-85 Major in graphic arts - Hungarian College of Fine Arts
1985-88 Post-graduate studies - Hungarian College of Fine Arts
Membership
1985 Studio of Young Hungarian Artists
1986-88 Founding member of the art-music group ‘Art-Reaktor’
1991 Member of the Society of Proceedings (Folyamat Társaság)
1992 Member of the following entities:
Association of Hungarian Fine Artists
Association of Hungarian Graphic Artist
MAMÜ Society
Association of Hungarian Illustrators
1996-99 Member of the European Council of Artists’ executive board
1998- 2000, 2004-2007 Member of the National Cultural Fund’s Fine Arts Advisory Board
2006-2008 Senior lecturer at the Department of Drawing, later at the Department of Visual Art at Károly Eszterházy College, Eger
2008 Professor at the Graphic Arts Department at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts

PRIZES (selection)
1985 Béla Kondor commemorative medallion, Hungarian College of Fine Arts
1986 Studio of Young Hungarian Artists’ prize, Budapest
1987 ‘Le Surrealisme’, 15` Salon International Silver Prize, Revin, France
1988-90 Derkovits scholarship
1989 Béla Kondor prize, 14th Graphic Arts Biennial of Miskolc
1990 ‘Signs of Change’ poster exhibition prize, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest
1991 First prize, 15th Graphic Arts Biennial of Miskolc
1992 First prize, 4th International Cairo Biennale, Egypt
1993 Scholarship in Rome, Hungarian Academy Rome, Italy
Scholarship of the Bavarian Government, Munich, Germany
1997 Munkácsy Prize
The Masters of Graphic Arts, 4th International Graphic Arts Biennial, Győr
1998 Prize in painting, Hungarian Asphalt Ltd (Magyar Aszfalt Kft)
2001 ‘BEIJ’ 01.- prize of the 1st Japanese Illustration Biennial
2003 Hungart scholarship, Budapest
2006 ‘Best Graphics of the Year’ prize, Budapest

SOLO EXHIBITIONS (selection)
1990 „József Szurcsik” Rauman Taidemuseo, Finland
1992 ‘PeaceFightPeaceFight’ Studio Gallery, Budapest; ‘No Limits’, Rauman Taidemuseo, Rauma, Finland
1993 ‘Ungari Graafikanaitus’, Tallin, Estonia; ‘Maalauksia Grafiikkaa’, Installaatio, Helsinki, Finland
1994 ‘Earth-Earth’ Játékszín Gallery, Budapest; ‘Drei Maler aus Budapest’ Kunstverein Kirchzarten, Germany; ‘József Szurcsik’s Exhibition’ King Matthias Museum, Solomon Tower, Visegrád; ‘Exhibition of József Szurcsik’ Cultur Centrum, Turku, Finland; ‘Nail, Hammer and Pincer’ Bercsényi 28 - 32 Gallery, Budapest
1995 ‘Fish’ Művésztelep Gallery, Szentendre
1996 ’Scraper’ Vigadó Gallery, Budapest
1997 The Municipal Library, Beersheva, Israel
1998 ‘Antique’ -Gaál - Kopasz - Majoros - Szurcsik, Újlipótváros Club-Gallery, Budapest
‘Mythology of Apollodoros’ Mester Gallery, Budapest
1999 ‘Soul Castle ‘City Picture Gallery, Győr
‘Titan Flow’ Pécs Gallery, Pécs (with Tamás Kopasz)
‘Garden of the Magician’ Godot Gallery, Budapest
2000 ‘Drawings’ Hungarian Institute of Sofia, Bulgaria
2001 ‘What is in Outer Space?’ Godot Gallery, Budapest
2002 ‘Old and New Images’ EDGE Gallery, Budapest
‘N-visages’ Belenky Brothers Gallery, New York, USA
‘Monument with Sword’ Clara Aich Photo Studio, New York, USA
‘Soul in a Box’ Coffee House Gallery, New York, USA
2003 ‘N.Y.N.Y.’ Godot Gallery, Budapest
‘Somewhere, Someone – Writers Travelling’ Dorottya Gallery, Budapest
2004 Painter József Szurcsik, Europe Club, New York
2005 Private Prison’ MU Theatre, Budapest
‘Trans-subjective’ double-exhibition, Godot Gallery, Ericsson Gallery, Budapest
Exhibition of Tibor Budahelyi and József Szurcsik, Contemporary Hungarian Gallery,
Niedermarkt, Slovakia
2006 Exhibition of József Szurcsik, Raiffeisen Gallery, Budapest
‘Evolution of Stupidity’ (selection from the graphic arts of the past two decades)
Gallery IX, Budapest
Selection 2001 - 2006, National Theatre, Budapest
‘New Images’ Bartók 32 Gallery, Budapest
2007 ‘Descending to Hell’ House of Art, Eger
2008 ‘Arcadia’, Judit Virág Gallery, Budapest
‘Opusculum’ Godot Gallery, Budapest
Exhibition of József Szurcsik, Keve Gallery, Ráckeve
‘Inner Journey’ Pelican Gallery,Székesfehérvár
Exhibition of József Szurcsik - Happy Art Festival
County Library, Nyíregyháza
2009 ‘Invariable Variable’ Judit Virág Gallery, Budapest
2010 Exhibition of József Szurcsik, Rétközi Museum, Kisvárda
Exhibition of József Szurcsik, Bulcsu Bertha Cultural Centre, Balatongyörök
‘Blocks – Forms – Shape’ Kogart, Budapest (with Boldizsár Szmrecsányi)