(1905 - 1926)
31 x 24,5 cm
Between 1913 and 1915, Bortnyik studied intermittently at the Kernstok-Vaszary-Rippl-Rónai Free School, where he was most influenced by Kernstok, one of the member of the artistic group, the Eight. In 1917, he met Lajos Kassák and became involved with the MA magazine. He took part in exhibitions at Ma and regularly published the journal's work. After the fall of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, he followed Kassák to Vienna. In 1921, his MA-Album was published, which Kassák regarded as the par excellence of 'pictorial architecture' and praised as the programmatic work of Hungarian Constructivism. In 1922 Bortnyik moved to Weimar to make contact with the Bauhaus, and in 1922 and 1923 he showed his works in Herwarth Walden's Sturm Gallery in Berlin. In 1925 he had an exhibition at the Mentor bookshop in Budapest. 1925-1926 he was one of the founders of the absurd theatre, the Green Donkey. In 1928 Bortnyik founded his private school of graphic design, called Műhely, where he taught according to Bauhaus principles. In 1933, he published his own magazine, Plakát (Poster).
In his first period in Budapest, Bortnyik's works (in theme and spirit) reflect the aspirations of the Eight. Shortly afterwards, as one of the most talented members of the Hungarian activist movement, he combined the stylistic features of Cubism, Futurism and Expressionism in his own individual way. In his woodcuts, he used the simplest means of cubist resolution of the view, using black and white blotch contrast and concentric composition to achieve a dynamic effect even on a small scale. Only a few oil paintings from this period are known or survive, but they are all the more important. Bortnyik's ability for emblematic compression is demonstrated in his oil paintings and activist posters, in which he synthesises avant-garde isms to create symbols of important motifs of the European left (e.g. locomotive, red paint, factory, worker, five-pointed star, flag, etc.).
In the early twenties - presumably under the influence of Béla Uitz - Bortnyik also had a brief period of neoclassicism. The figures in Karca are monumental, they could have stepped off a Michelangelo fresco. At the Fountain, Oarsmen, Three Women, Madonna - all similar in theme and setting. The backdrop is the backdrop of the city, with water (river, fountain) as a symbol of life in some way, and the vase, which would appear in Bortnyik's later metaphysical and art deco paintings.