Endre Hortobágyi was a Hungarian Postwar & Contemporary artist who lived from 1941 to 1998. “The Annihilated” documentary by Ákos Bánki attempts to examine the postwar Hungary through the life of Hortobagyi and his artistic circle.
What is the fate of a painter who chose abstract expressionism instead of social realism in communist Hungary?
What is the fate of a painter whose exhibitions were continuously banned?
What is the fate of a painter who chose solitude and inward immigration instead of compromising?
Hungary in the early sixties: a depressing, gray, intimidating country. After the defeat of the 1956 Revolution, most of the members of the opposition were in prison. Free speech was prohibited.
A young man, whose name is Endre Hortobágyi would have then started his career as a painter and applied to the University of Fine Arts but the communist leaders of the university refused his application because of the political past of his father. So he joined the circle of young artists who were denying the compulsory social realism and trying to follow in secret the banned western art especially American abstract expressionism and French informel art. In the late sixties, he attended the exhibitions of the circle, which were banned in a row. The perpetual censorship and the rejections of his art made him getting worse. From 1968 Hortobágyi was becoming increasingly lonely. He was bewildered by the situation, that he was being expelled from society. Not even his friends knew much about him. He sheltered himself in his hermitage full of birds near to the forest. Even when the borders of the country opened up and most of his friends were able to go abroad and exhibit their work in public, he lived in solitude. Toward the end of his life, a retrospective exhibition was organized for him but this event took a tragic turn as well.
The director of the documentary traced the surviving documents and paintings and made interviews with his family members and friends for portraying a tragical fate of Endre Hortobágyi.