Schmal Károly

1942 -

Schmal, Károly

Schmal, Károly

Graphic artist and painter, active since the late 1960s. He built up a very consistent and unique oeuvre of autonomous graphic artworks and posters, which he mostly designed for cultural events.

Schmal studied in the late 1960s at the Academy of Fine Arts. János Kmetty, Jenő Barcsay, Gyula Hincz, György Kádár, György Konecsni were among his numerous great masters. Initially he studied painting, but he soon switched to graphics. After finishing the academy, he received several commissions for commercial and movie posters. 

In the late 1960s his film posters followed the fashionable art tendencies of the decade. These however represented high artistic qualities, they weren’t yet typical Schmal posters. He soon decided to refuse to work on commission, due the rush and the pressure. He started focusing on individual work and on cultural posters. Fortunately, he had the opportunity to evolve his art on these fields. From 1973 on, he was commissioned in every year for the Week of Museums and Monuments. This task gave him the chance to articulate his visions about art and society, cultural memory and heritage. His posters usually use photographs, which are themselves very delicate, composed works of art. They are mainly unique stills, invented by the artist; they show geometrical objects, masks, architectural details, sand and stones. The compositions express deep thoughts about memory and oblivion.

Between 1978 and 1996 Schmal designed the posters of the Applied Graphics Biennale in Békéscsaba, the main venue of applied graphic art in Hungary. His posters for the Biennale can be seen as his artistic creed. Schmal’s art is very conceptual; his posters often question the meaning and understanding of art itself. The Biennale posters always pick one artistic tool: colours, drawing, lighting, etc. Schmal often presents these notions in meditative photo compositions, often combined with handwriting and drawing.

Schmal’s art has a certain profound and meditative nature. His characteristic motifs are shadows, the act of leaving a trace and meaningful objects which stand alone. His ideology can be traced back to Zen Buddhism. One of his most famous works is the poster for the anniversary of Béla Bartók’s birth, which shows the influence of Moholy-Nagy’s photographic works, as well as Schmal’s attraction towards calligraphy.

In 1971, as a freshly graduated young man he was invited to participate in an exhibition of the famous Papp-group, together with György Kemény. Later he formed an own group, called Quintett with other young poster artists: István Bakos, Kálmán Molnár, József Pecsenke and Emőke Simonyi. In 1976 he joined another formation, Perspektíva (Perspective). Among others, György Kemény, István Bányai, András Felvidéki and Tibor Helényi were members, and the group organized group exhibitions. In 2009, he joined the Hungarian Poster Association (MPT).

Besides poster works, Schmal has an important oeuvre as an individual artist (graphic works, photographic works and paintings). 

Available posters by this artist