Kollár was posted to the Hungarian Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, from 2011 to 2017, where he headed the Consular section. In previous foreign ministry assignments in the Turkish capital Ankara and the Serbian capital Belgrade his keen interest in art hadn’t led him to collect, but in Kyiv something changed.

“I don’t know why I didn’t collect before but then in Kyiv I did. It just happened this way,” he said at the opening of his exhibition at the Ráth Lépcső Art Gallery, just across the Ádám Clark tér roundabout from the Zero Kilometre Stone, on July 23, 2019. On his social rounds of the Ukrainian capital’s art galleries and at openings of exhibitions there he became friendly with many artists. Seventeen of them are represented in his collection, and almost half of them have works on show at the exhibition in Budapest.

Kollár never met two of the 17 but the other 15 he counts as friends. “It is a small collection but I am very proud of it,” he said. “I met very nice people in my six years in Kyiv. I visited the artists’ studios and they became close acquaintances.

# Portrait of János Kollár

“I have such beautiful paintings and small sculptures, and I thought it would be nice to show them now that I have retired and returned to Budapest. I want to share the beauty and also spread some good news of Ukraine.”

For the small friendly gallery, it is the first time it has had a foreign contemporary exhibition since opening up in 2015. Ukraine’s Ambassador to Hungary, Liubov Nepop, said in opening the exhibition that there is a saying among people who serve abroad that they always leave part of their cart behind when they complete their time but they also bring back some memories. She said the exhibition is symbolic of the friendship and good relations between the two countries.

Kollár said he will never part with one painting, a portrait of himself in the style of Van Gogh. He said the artist had painted it from photographs but had nonetheless captured some expression that was very true of his subject but which had not been present in the photos.

Kollár Collection, Selected Masterpieces from the Contemporary Ukrainian Fine Arts
Ráth Lépcső Art Gallery, Hunyadi János út 1, District I
Tel.: (36-1) 202-3836
Email: info@rathlepcso.hu

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