New Artists of the Nation

In 2023 three artists won the Artist of the National Award, the most prestigious Hungarian art recognition, which the awardees received on 3 November from György Vashegyi, the President of HAA at the centre of HAA, the Vigadó. The Artist of the Nation Award Committee gave the award to István Lantos, pianist, organist, music teacher, regular member of HAA, Ferenc Sajdik, graphic artist, caricaturist as well as György Selmeczi, composer, pianist, conductor.
György Vashegyi, the President of HAA looked back at the period when the award was born as well as its purpose. "Just ten years ago our Academy initiated the foundation of this prize in the Hungarian Parliament in order to create the most prestigious company of Hungarian art and culture for its outstanding artists in the fields of theater, literature, music, visual arts, cinematography, architecture, dance, industrial art, photography, folk art as well as in the field of circus art," the president reminded.
György Vashegyi also quoted György Fekete, the late president of HAA, who addressed the first award winners at the centre of HAA: "My role is more than a greeting. I should be thankful on behalf of an entire nation for the brilliant artistic achievements of those celebrated, and for the miracle with which for about half a century the destruction of evil has been balanced with the gestures of good, the lies of deceit with the telling of the truth, and the grimaces of ugliness with the smiles of beauty."
György Vashegyi also said that during his presidency he had the opportunity to present the Artist of the Nation Award six times. "These ceremonies are the most uplifting and outstanding moments of this position. It was an honor, like this one, every time I was able to greet the nation's artists", emphasized the outgoing president.
János Csák, the Minister Responsible for Culture and Innovation, said in his welcome speech: "The Artist of the Nation Award ceremony is a great holiday, because at important turning points in life people need people to hold on to." There are times when we turn to the wisdom of the Bible for help; there are those who expect guidance from politics in times of major crises and transformations; others rely on the answers of science in such cases - and not a few turn to the arts on the occasion of great cataclysms. Art provides a perspective and a frame of interpretation, with the help of which, if not rationally, we feel that the things and big questions of the world can be arranged. The strength of Hungarian culture lies in the fact that it builds on each of these four interpretation systems. This interpretation is also helped by the respect for tradition and the love of freedom at all times - the minister referred to the outstanding revolutionary days of October 1956. Tradition means organic construction, János Csák added, among other things, also at the institutional level. The Hungarian state spends more than twice the GDP on Hungarian culture than the EU average. In the life of Hungarian culture HAA and the awards it presents, especially the Artist of the Nation recognition, have a prominent role. This award is given to artists who build and encourage tradition with their lifework.
November 6, 2023