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István Vas – Through Time’s Segments

Vas István – Az idő metszeteiben

at Ferenczy Museum, Szentendre, Hungary | 2022
Curator: Zsófia Júlia Szilágyi

István Vas (1910–1991) was a member of the third generation of the Nyugat (West). He is irremovable from the literary canon, however, his figure is fading. The exhibition entitled Through Time’s Segments, which selected from the legacy of several public institutions and from the collections of many private individuals, sought to raise awareness of the intellectually sensitive, classical poet’s œuvre and recall his attractively modern person. The exhibition aimed to introduce the poet, literary translator and novelist. In addition, it sought to inspire the visitors to read.

The exhibition's triple sectioning was visually connected by a ribbon floating above the visitor's head, which ran the length of the space. On the ribbon were pages from István Vas's work diary, which he kept from 1944 until his death in a single diary. Forty-seven years were recorded, line by line, in his daily work, what he translated, what he wrote, how many lines of it he progressed. The monumental and impressive tape was a monumental and impressive representation of a lifetime's work.

Moving forward through the exhibition space, through the œuvre, among books, photographs, letters, paintings and furniture, we arrived at the three sound domes, in which István Vas's well-known translations could be heard in their original languages: German, English and French. Opposite them, excerpts from the corresponding novels, plays and poems could be read in Hungarian on the walls.

We created unique wallpaper patterns for the poems at the end of the space. These were both a reference to the ancestors of textile merchant István Vas and to the set of motifs of his second wife, the painter Piroska Szántó. The poems, grouped by season, hung like fabric sample books on the walls, which visitors could take down and flip through at their leisure.

Vas István exhibition interior

Through Time’s Segments

Nearly midnight. Windows open. Summertime.

Moths cover the neon bar in my room.

I stand at the window. This solitude becomes

Chronic. I feel this room contains old rooms

from here, from there. The time, the space

Of rooms criss-crossing one another’s place.

This person, and that, the lodgers, reunite

Through time’s segments. To them

I speak in several kinds of time.

Alone. Speak tot he overflowing night.


translated by Daniel Hoffman

Vas István exhibition interior
Vas István exhibition interior
Vas Istvan exhibition interior