KÁROLY KÓS, THE GRAPHIC ARTIST
Károly Kós, the architect, the ethnographer has been the subject of several scientific articles, his work in cultural history is well-known, the works of Károly Kós, the writer and the playwright have received their rightful place in education.  His cultural-political activities set an example to all of us; the value of a creator, of a specialist is determined – beyond conference-participations and publications - by the number of quotations, which shows that his work is continued, because it can and must be continued. He lives, lives among us. However, there is much less said about his work as a graphic artist. If there is any … Among all the volumes dealing with Kós Károly, there is only one chapter in one book that is promising: Nagy Elemér’s volume with the title Az építő Kós Károly (Kós Károly, the builder) ends with the chapter Művészeti írásaiból, művészeti írásairól; the writer discusses the work of Károly Kós as writer and as architect under this title. There are no articles about his artistic work, not even at the beginning of the 21st century. However, these works are well-known, they appear as illustrations to various texts, in manuals, they are displayed on school-corridors, in classrooms, etc., etc., we can often see them, yet this part of his many-sided work has never been written about.
We assess his oeuvre, we write about it, interpret it, value his oeuvre, analyze it, explain it, take it to its component parts. It is a European type of rational thinking, the European man is a man of reason.  Descartes writes in his classical work about the system and the method – without fail for the first time – that if we understand a problem, it must be freed from notions, it must be led back to a simpler treatment, and it must be divided into smaller parts with the help of ennumeration.  All Kós-works, yes, all of them, the architectural, engineering and literary works, all of them - separately and together – show the same thing. Károly Kós the engineer, Károly Kós, the writer, Károly Kós, the ethnographer – are usually necessary categories. However, when talking about his pictures, we must refer to a creative existence, which has delivered results in many fields, and these can’t be dealt with separately. A definite division is just an analyses, a validation of its own status, of the ways of scientific research, of its own work. So it is a matter of method. In the researched subject, there is no such division, we just force it in with the reception, with the method of scientific research as its result and for its assumed efficiency. The unity of the way of thinking and existence is obvious, so we must view and approach it accordingly. So we must determine a creator’s existence, its basic order, which was reflected in different fields, disciplines, and genres. The literary work is ethnographically authentic, „analytical prose”, the graphical knowledge has architectural, ethnographic background and grounding, supposes an engineering knowledge, and it is built on the living structure of all these. Károly Kós’s work lived and lives in its unity , if we divide it, it is mainly to make our work easier, and even so, we must build it again. We could refer to various authors, works, theories: to the last decades of the 20th century, which is mainly the era of the method’s self-reflection, that has emerged as the consequence of the Gadamer-twist in hermeneutics. Having all the above in mind, building upon this heritage, and on the researched subject, we can approach this subject that has never been researched before. „Getting free from notions” – obviously we won’t tear these works from their natural environment, we will definitely not wash the borders of architecture, folklore and literature together, which helps us research the primal power, creative attitude, intellectual existence, which is the base and life of works, which appears and is reflected in works. Graphics. If we are looking for the visual code that is at the base of the pictures, then we will find in the drawing the knowledge of the architect, the precision of the engineer, the know-how of the ethnographer, moreover, the unity of all these, and this is the starting point of our analysis. Graphics. Illustrations, independent works of art? Are they more than just illustrations? Pictures that were conceived based on texts, accompanying texts? In what and to what institutional framework? When? The most important goal at this point is to determine their place, to find – „find”?!, again? – the visual code, which stood at the base of these illustrations. In the cognitive, creative process of the context, theme – creator – creation, as well as in the process of re-coding, we are looking for that characteristic, which is specific to the person of the creator, which is specifically Transylvanian.
The 19 graphics of A régi Kalotaszeg  (The old land of Calata) are subject pictures, or present working or fighting people, men, castles – there is story-writing, story-telling in each picture, the main characteristic of which is the archaic character. Characteristic – creative and Transylvanian. In the volume with the title Szentimrei Jenő Verses magyar krónikája Károly Kós képeivel  (Szentimrei Jenő’s Hungarian chronicle in verses with illustrations by Károly Kós) the illustrations present castles and historic figures, the portraits are characterised by minimalism and soberness, whereas the archaic character is shown with the font forms, font types, the inconsequences of the division of words. Szentimrei Jenő Csáki biró lánya (Judge Csáki’s daughter). Károly Kós drew the front page to the volume Ballad from the land of Calata in three acts, five pictures ; the motive of the leaning headstone appears again here, but it becomes a symbol, as it represents the situation of the whole community. In Szentimrei Jenő’s volume Nyári délután Egeresen  (Summer afternoon in Egeres) the lino-cuts are references to the parallelism of human figures and towers. So by 1924 it becomes clear that he draws the personality and character of buildings. The human figure – with the tower as its parallel speaks about its chosen homeland, the land of Calata, or rather about Transylvania. He wrote a book about his chosen homeland, Kalotaszeg  (Tha land of Calata).
„(...) the villages of the land of Calata – which still bear the clear marks of the late-gothics of the middle ages – are proof of incredible material and spiritual growth – he writes. – The houses, barns and garners, the furniture of the house, moreover, the ornaments are gothic up to our days in their spirituality and structure. The renaissance and later the baroque, which was so characteristic to other areas of Transylvania, could not influence the land of Calata. One or two rooftops of churches, or a few salient ornaments can be found, a few cuts in the wood, or painted ornament of peasant-house furnitures show that there were a few attempts from the baroque, but everything remained characteristic to the middle ages. It is without doubt that the golden era of the thousand years of the XVth century Land of Calata and maybe the most conservative and most conserving ethnic group of all Hungarians has preserved, cared for and developed with great affection its artistic style gained during the golden ages into the wonderful harmonic beauty that we know as the folk art of Calata.”  To show the characteristics of gothics and baroque starting with the 15-16th centuries, to present everything with precision, is on the one hand documentary fidelity, on the other, humbleness, and all of the above, a matter of artistic choice. This aesthetic attitude is self-interpretation and self-practise in such a way, that this artistic work does not try to affirm itself, it is not the creative invention that gives its character, but the documentary fidelity, and thus the subject with its inner characteristic. Kós Károly’s conclusion: „The Land of Calata: an artistic notion.”  Erdély. Kultúrtörténeti vázlat  (Transylvania. A cultural-historical sketch) – there are 49 drawings of houses, mansions, castles, 5 interiors and 6 traditional costumes – he does not attempt to present the world of objects in his drawings, rather the people’s, community’s character. He expresses the human nature of houses, buildings, towers and bastions. He has the same goal with the drawings that constitute the rich material of Erdély kövei  (Transylvania’s stones) or Károly Kós képeskönyv  (Károly Kós picture-book); the volume is a detailed summary of a creator’s life-path, and in addition to this, the pictures offer an ethnic, social and even moral portrait of Transylvania. Életrajz  (Biography) – the book is illustrated with drawings of Transylvanian houses, rooftops, Transylvanian and sekler gates. This rich work allows us to get to know such artistic societies as the Erdélyi Szépmíves Céh, Barabás Miklós Céh or the founding of the society of Transylvanian artists . Nagy Elemér writes in his book discussing the architectural and literary activities of Kós Károly with the title Az építő Károly Kós  (Károly Kós, the builder), that the most appropriate attribute referring to Károly Kós is that he was „the factotum of Transylvania” .
So we get the drawings of streets or village houses, Transylvania’s stones speak for themselves. The middle ages and baroque and the legendary past that is to be preserved to the present and future – the various ages are mixed, layered, and a special spirit is born by turning off the chronological differences and distances. This is the special spirit of ballads. These images speak about a community, which originates its new existence from tragedy. To live the glorious past, the (incomplete) process of building, the elevating failure, if this is the catharsis of the present, then this here is the spiritual world of ballads.  Ballads. As we know it today, the ballad is a mixture of lyrics, epics and drama, but we are not analysing the ingredients, and their connections, but rather the way Károly Kós drew the ballads. Picture-ballads. Why did Károly Kós choose this genre? Why did he create such a genre, why did he consider this to be the most appropriate to present and express what is typically Transylvanian, the Transylvanian character – in the relation of world and author? Is it something that is offered by the subject? What is that it is initially given by the subject? The stones of Transylvania ... A several hundred year-old past, an inherited attitude. It is a strong connection to serious matters of destiny, that is how he wants to depict the existence.  What does the subject bring with itself, what is it that it originally offers, that at the same time obligates? People, houses. „Transylvania”. A mental space, where the reality of fiction becomes decisive. First of all the subject determines the the creator’s aesthetic attitude in the process of creation, that is certainly so as far as the period before 1945 is concerned. Then the author’s subjectivity, the artist’s attitude stands in either accepting it or labelling it irrational. Károly Kós’s attitude stands in the free choice of the given, of the existing. We can’t find any distortions, polarizations, avantgarde solutions related to the muscular, the first and most important consequence thus becoming the documentary-like fidelity. That is however not a simple copy of reality. So is that art? The drawings are art works created besides the knowledge of the architect, the material knowledge of the folklorist, the precision of the engineer with the story-tellers stories. The real art stands in combining, harmonizing, uniting these knowledges, disciplines and genres – beyond science. That is the main characteristic of Károly Kós's art.
It is common in the drawings that they work with Leonardo’s geometric perspectives, we look up to the landscape, to buildings, people – and that forces the interpreter to a certain kind of interpretation. This function is built by the perspective together with the frame-effect; the frame is a basic character of the genre – closeup, medium close up, extreme long shot etc. –, the technique of „landscape cut” has been used ever since the impressionist „form revolution”. Choosing the landscape to be presented is easy: the castle or building is on the top of a hill or mountain. This interplay of the perspective and the frame offers itself.
What follows, is the minimalization of the scene: he picks just a few, absolutely necessary compositional elements. And just a few lines that are absolutely necessary to the sketching of the landscape, building, headstone or human figure. With strong outlines.
Pinetree and man, headstone and man – the main symbols of life and death for the Transylvanian man, we could say. The symbols of an important presence. It is often said that „the Transylvanian man has become one with nature”, but it is more important that this is more so than anywhere else. 
We can see the man who persists no matter what, even if there are hard conditions, mountainous region – unfertile land, no access to information, etc., etc. We can see a man ruling over the landscape with love, and the tragic heroism of this persistence. The man standing up straight in festive Hungarian costume, in the folk-costume characteristic to the region, or simply in casual wear.
A frequent compositional element: the figure of a contemplative man. So who is the character? What are his activities? The figure is part of the presented world, but at the same time he is an outsider, a contemplator; and we see through his eyes. This attitude means an epistemic distancing. What does this signal to the interpreter, to the person who watches these graphics? We watch the spectator, we are observers of the observer, the contemplate the contemplator; picture within the picture, the upper level of the metaphor and motivation for the interpreter – he himself is part of the work of art, of the world presented by the picture. – And this aspect is worth to be further analyzed based on the subject-theories. – The human figures, body positions, stiffened moves tell a story in pictures that can only be told in Transylvania, and we can find a specific soberness in the life of the lines, in the view reduced to just a few necessary lines. The drama. Because Károly Kós draws history, his graphics is history telling. With the precision of an engineer, with a respect to facts of a chronicle, with aesthetic spirit. His works are artistic documents.
Ballads, metaphors – regarding the structure of this metaphor, it separates among (re)writing and fiction from an existing meaning offered by the context, and its scenery – let’s call it historic – and personal, as Károly Kós is not originally from the historic Transylvania, but from Timisoara. For him Transylvania was a choice, a pledge, there was greater need for him, he answered to a question referring to settling in Hungary. The third is going to be the layer of reflection, a reflection which is diagonal to the previous ones, and which is does not only have an informational character, but it has a power to organize the world. This is how this structure is being built and turns around to itself; Transylvania is originally an abstraction, which exists because it continuously creates a concrete meaning to itself, without crossing the borders of political, historical etc. boundaries. It is a hook in time that can only be understood by this many-layered building technique.
What Károly Kós started, has been freely continued since 1993, namely the artistic map of the Land of Calata, and Transylvania in general is being edited. Artists of art camps – Zsobok, Szárhegy – preserve monuments, churches, villages, hills and mountains of various regions.
„Transylvania”. An abstraction, that seems to be redefinable from time to time, and especially now. And Károly Kós as well as his followers have great merit in this.
 We can follow a long line of books starting with Kós Károly-volumes up to higschool mannuals from publishing houses like Kriterion, Dacia, Szépirodalmi, Múzsák and others.
 We can see this more clearly, if we look beyond – at least for a moment – the borders of the continent, of christian culture. It is governed by racionalism, and not by rhythm for example, as the African culture; the Indian way of thinking and living is different, as it is the way of thinking and living of the Far East.
 René Descartes: Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences [A módszerről. Szabályok az értelem vezetésére], XIII, Kriterion, Bucharest, 1977.
 Kós Károly: A régi Kalotaszeg [The Old Land of Calata], Athenaeum R., 1911.
 Szentimrei Jenő: Verses magyar krónikája Kós Károly képeivel [Hungarian chronicle in verses with illustrations by Kós Károly], Castrum, Sfantu Gheorghe, 1991.
 Szentimrei Jenő: Csáki bíró lánya. Kalotaszegi ballada három felvonásban, öt képben [The daughter of judge Csáki. A ballad from the Land of Calata in three acts, five pictures]. Lepage Lajos Bookstore, Cluj.
 Szentimrei Jenő: Nyári délután Egeresen [Summer afternoon in Aghires], Kadima Printing and Publishing House, Cluj, 1924.
 Kós Károly: Kalotaszeg [The Land of Calata], Erdélyi Szépmíves Céh, Cluj, 1932.
 Baroque – is the style used in the book.
 Idem, 139–140.
 Idem, 166.
 Kós Károly: Erdély. Kultúrtörténeti vázlat [Transylvania. A short history of culture], Erdélyi Szépmíves Céh, Cluj, 1929.
 Erdély kövei beszélnek is. Auch Siebenbürgens Steine haben ihre Sprache [The stones of Transylvania speak] (Translated by Molter Károly). In: Kettős tükörben. Az erdélyi magyar-szász irodalmi kapcsolatok történetéből. [In double mirror. On the history of Hungarian-Sachson literary relations]. Im Doppelspiegel. Aus der Geschichte der Ungarisch-Sächsischen literarischen Beziehungen in Sibenbürgen. The bilingual edition of Művelődés, 1999.
 Kós Károly képeskönyv, [Picture-book], Múzsák, Budapest.
 Életrajz [Biography], Szépirodalmi Publishing House, Budapest –– Kriterion, Bucharest, 1991.
 Idem, 228.
 Nagy Elemér: Az építő Kós Károly [Kós Károly, the architect], Balassi Publishing House, Kós Károly Foundation, Polis Publishing House, Budapest, Cluj, 1995.
 Idem, 140.
 The heroic poem and the tragedy are analogue to this, yet we cannot refer to them. First of all because we don’t have the characteristic long, manyfold story, movements and character-structures, but moments from life and individuals.
 As opposed to frankofone cultures. The attitude is different – bright, lively and joyful. There is no question, which is more beautiful or better, etc. From the point of view of creation we can see a long line of great artists and art works. Is there anything more important?
 The data of immigration still show it: migration is more characteristic to Partium and Banat than to Secler Land.
 According to Paul Ricoeur this is the root of the metaphor, see his book with the title La metaphore vie.