The Subotica-based Bosch+Bosch Group (1969–1976) was one of the artist collectives that started emerging across Europe and other parts of the world in the ‘60s, mostly within the music scene, but also other fields, such as the broad domain of visual arts.
The consciousness and situation awareness of the people of Subotica was rooted in the special character of the town situated in the border region, infused with multicultural identity and multilinguality. While the bourgeois attitude was still tangibly present in its art in the ‘60s – especially the impact of the “Pest School” – the emerging generation was already in quest of local traces of Hungarian activism, seeking historical resources that endeavoured to expound and elucidate the fading memory of the Dadaist “matinees” in Vojvodina. They sought local roots of art, fresh ideas leaked from the international scene to the Yugoslav scene, owing to the country’s economic, cultural and artistic openness and the boundless possibilities of intellectual networking.
Literary research also helped the mostly ethnic Hungarian members of the Bosch+Bosch Group in locally recognising the significance of Hungarian activism, predominantly Imre Bori’s epochal studies that rehabilitated the oeuvre of Lajos Kassák, who had been dismissed in Hungary. Historical research into the course of Zenithism and Yugoslav Dadaism commenced almost simultaneously in the South Slavic scene. The young artists of Subotica recognised the inevitability of the network system that had already functioned in the period of the historical avant-garde and resurfaced in the international scene in the ‘60s. Beyond the self-explanatory Southern Slavic relations – mostly with Novi Sad, Belgrade, Zagreb and Ljubljana – they attached special importance to intellectual and physical approach towards their Hungarian like-minded contemporaries as well as their collaboration with art circles in North- and South-America – mainly utilising the benefits of mail art.
The Bosch+Bosch Group entered the scene with the claim of re-evaluation, envisioning a new type of social role for art beyond rejecting local, provincial values in all walks of life. It was a typical cosmopolitan phenomenon that idolised the idea of international (counter-)art, attempting to reform the notions of art and the artist, which had been cemented in an outdated form. Faithfully to the ideas of the avant-garde, they professed that being an artist was not a matter of status but a lifestyle and behaviour. As to how much of this was actually realised – the exhibition hopefully proves illuminating.
The occasion for this retrospective show is that the group was founded half a century ago, as the second collective of its kind in Yugoslavia. The exhibition is organised with the Institute for the Research of the Avant-Garde and the Marinko Sudac Collection, from which came the majority of the exhibited works, additionally giving some insight into the modernist – abstract and Informel – endeavours of post-war art in Vojvodina. It also highlights some moments from the activity of other Vojvodinese groups emerging in the course of the ‘60s and ‘70s, providing a context for the core corpus. A by far not insignificant aspect is that the exhibition presents the oeuvres of some members of the group beyond 1976, illustrating the subsequent development of certain creative ideas. This constructive approach can be especially interesting with regard to those artists who are still active today.
Finally, a citation referring to the provenance of the group’s name: “The denomination of the Bosch+Bosch Group is founded on the conceptual paradigm marking the bridge between the early stage in the activities of the collective and the nature of its subsequent denouement, in the course of which the community’s ultimate creed was formulated. Our fleeting traditional period was hallmarked by our admiration of the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. As shortly after our formation, we steered towards the international waters of contemporary art, it became evident that we would need to be confronted with the new media and media technology of the age. We were pondering which notion from the world of modern technology would be best suited to express this moment, which was how we arrived at the West-German Bosch company, which had already carved out a strong presence at the Yugoslav market by the ‘60s, while also serving as association to the Dutch master. By joining the two Boschs, we embedded the name of our group in a symmetrical structure, although – as it is more than evident by now – the balance shifted considerably in favour of mediatic explorations related to technological aspects, once we had naturalised the daily use of photography, slide, film, television, xerox, etc. Marking the age of technology, the new notion of Bosch symbolically supplanted the old.”