The Kepesita Collection was founded in 2014, with the aim of helping emerging artists on their journey, annually awarding a young creator with a handsome grant. This fascinating initiative is centred on the theme of travel and being on the road, but is it merely a drop in the ocean of art collection or the beginning of a new wave of Hungarian collectors…

This month, I talked with Delia Vekony, artistic coordinator of the Kepesita Collection, on the idea behind the initiative and about Peter, its founder, and his life philosophy. It’s a powerful story of personal belief in art and a commitment to artists, supporting them within one’s means.

How did it all start?

“Peter Varga, the founder of the Kepesita Collection, has been a hitch-hiker since his teens. It’s a lifestyle choice for him.  In 2011 and 2012, he travelled around the world, hitch-hiking across Asia and Australia, finally arriving in New Zealand. This trip was such a life-changing experience for him, and he recalls receiving so much during his travels that he wanted to give something back in return. With a little brainstorming, his thoughts drifted to the idea of supporting the arts. After all, artists are much like travellers.  They go through journeys of obstacle and change, expressing their experiences, to enrich our world.”

You don’t need to be rich to start a contemporary art collection…

“I think it’s important to highlight the fact that Peter is not from a wealthy family, nor is he earning millions. He’s currently working as a rock technician in Norway. Each year, for the past 5 years, he’s saved some of his earnings to give to this cause. He could have donated his money to other humanitarian organizations, but Peter believes artists and their artworks can really be catalysts for change in our time. They can show us different perspectives, plausible solutions for pressing current events and issues.”

So how does the Kepesita Collection actually work?

“Rather than gifting 400,000 HUF (appr. 1250 EUR) randomly, we’ve come up with the idea of an annual open-call, inviting young Hungarian artists to apply with any visual artwork worth this amount, including paintings, graphic works and installations. (Later on, we’d like to broaden the spectrum to international artists.)  Every year, we announce a particular theme, mostly related to the original “On the Road” concept. We have a professional jury – Sándor Hornyik, curator of MODEM, Debrecen and Áron Fenyvesi, former curator of Trafó, Budapest – deciding on the winner. In exchange, Peter receives the winning artwork, which is added to the collection later on. The collection as a whole is managed by Pál Sándor Tóth.”  

How does Kepesita actually help young emerging artists?

“On top of the money, the winning artist, who must be under the age of 35, greatly benefits from being part of a prestigious collection, adding value to his or her professional career portfolio. We give official recognition, welcoming new entrants into the art world’s ‘bloodstream’, and therefore help build his or her professional status as an artist. We also showcase the winner and the top 10 selected artists’ artworks in an exhibition. Unfortunately, we can’t award special mentions, although there are always many who are worthy. At this stage, Peter’s donations are limited but our intention is to broaden and eventually showcase the collection’s artworks in other themed exhibitions.”

How can this project encourage other collectors in the art world?

“I believe this initiative appeals mostly to young collectors in their 30s and 40s. It shows them inspiring examples of dedication and commitment to art. As art patrons, these young collectors can invest their money into something truly valuable, something that carries value far into the future. Our initiative also helps establish an aesthetically conscious generation of Hungarian collectors.”

What will the future bring?

“Our collection will definitely remain for the future, but it’s hard to say if the annual open-call will continue. It all depends on Peter’s generous contribution. Luckily so far, this project, among others Peter initiated, is ongoing.”

Marta Balla

About Marta

Marta lives and works in Budapest, Hungary. She graduated from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), Spain. She holds an MA specialized in painting and art theory. She has exhibited in solo and collective shows in Croatia, Hungary, Israel, Mexico, Spain and the US. She is also involved in curating and social art projects, and has been invited to international conferences to talk about her art and process. She teaches traditional painting techniques nationally and internationally. She is also an art therapist, using different artistic expressions and storytelling in the therapeutic process. Marta has been practicing aikido, a non-violent Japanese martial art for 15 years. She has been engaged in contact improvisation dance for 3 years which lead her to more exploration in performance art.