András Wahorn

From Unearthing The Music

The Band AE Bizottság (AE Committee) at the festival of New Wave bands in Balatonfüred in 1982. László feLugossy is in the front of the picture, András Wahorn stands back with the saxophone. Photo by: Tamás Urbán /

András Wahorn - originally András Pintér - is an Hungarian avant-garde painter, designer, filmmaker, producer, musician, and founding member of the Vajda Lajos Studio and the Bizottság (Committee) group. In elementary school, he already decided to be an artist when he would grow up, but after finishing high school, he learned art autodidact. When he was sixteen, he had the rare opportunity to visit his mother in Canada. He spent two months in Vancouver, which was a shocking experience for him.

He had several exhibitions since 1969: he experiments with almost every genre, his various works in music, fine art, and cinema complement each other tightly. He won at an exhibition of the Studio of Young Artists’ Association at the age of 22. In 1972, he was a founding member of the Vajda Lajos Studio, composed of amateur artists. That was the community from which the legendary band, Bizottság (Committee) grew out by 1980, started by András Wahorn, István ef Zámbó, László feLugossy and Sándor Bernáth. Initially, the goal was to enter a talent show, and as they make it to the finals, they could send an inappropriate message on TV to everyone by doing an outrageous performance instead of the expected “pretty blues”. While they fell out of the race even before it started, they continued to play music together. The band, mostly composed of (visual) artists first played in front of an audience as the opening act before the rock band Beatrice, on August 23, 1980, and they soon became a favourite of the intellectuals of the alternative-underground sphere.

According to their assessment, none of them knew how to make music: their concerts were more like performances, criticising how things worked in socialist Hungary. They did not care about being professional either; it was about having fun: as they called it, they played “leisure music”. Nonetheless, their lyrics were more surreal than political. Therefore, against all the odds, their first disc, Kalandra fel! (Adventure time!) published in 1983. As Wahorn recalled it in a 2014 interview: “We thought that political commitments are incompatible with freedom. What mattered to us is to be able to express ourselves as we wanted.” The first disc was followed by a second one, Jégkrémbalett (Ice cream ballet), and a movie by the same title, directed by Wahorn. It was also him who designed the covers for the albums. The possibility to publish a disc, as Wahorn sees it, was not their achievement. It was because as New Wave was already spreading in Hungary at the time, it became more and more embarrassing that the trend was absent from the Hungarian music industry. All they did was to jump on the opportunity. At the middle of the 80s, Bizottság also had a chance to go on a Western European tour. For the band this seemed to be almost impossible at the time and they had given up on it already, before receiving their passports, two days before leaving. Due to Wahorn’s persistence, they also received their visas just on time: the tour was back on.

Nevertheless, their career was not without difficulties: they often encountered obstacles trying to perform and at times they were not allowed to, and publishing a disc also meant substantial compromises with the authorities. Certain lines had to be changed or left out, and they were quite strict on what songs can be published and what songs cannot. The result was an album with only a fraction of their songs, and the second album only contained songs newly written for the movie Jégkrémbalett. Therefore, today, most of their repertoire is lost, as they never recorded in any form.

The Band AE Bizottság (AE Committee) at the festival of New Wave bands in Balatonfüred in 1982. László feLugossy is in the front of the picture, András Wahorn stands back with the saxophone. Photo by: Tamás Urbán/

Meanwhile, Wahorn, as other members of the Bizottság, did not stop with his fine art activities: during the ‘80s, he actively worked as a painter and as a graphic designer. The obstacles encountered regarding their exhibitions were very similar to what they experienced as musicians. Shortly after the Western European tour in 1985, the band split up, but none of them stopped painting, making music or movies. Bizottság remains a cult band: in 2011 they held an exhibition at the Hall of Art in honour of the band, and in 2013 they were the inspiration for a contemporary dance opera. Wahorn is not happy with this legacy: for example, he is somewhat disappointed about that most people are still more interested in what they did thirty years ago during the Bizottság era than anything they accomplished afterwards. Nevertheless, it was a significant period of his life: “... when I was there, I did not feel happy, but obviously, those were the best years of my life. How interesting, and how sad that those people who only became smarter, stronger, more skilful since then also became much less interesting!” - remember in 2006.

In 1988, Wahorn founded the Rex Wahorn Studio. After the regime change, he first moved to Canada, then to the United States. In 1990, the authorities banned a song from his album Tengerhajózás (Seafaring) commemorating his plan to leave the country. During his 13 years abroad he worked as a web designer and a background artist. In 2006, he moved back to Hungary. Besides this, he continued to play in several bands and became a quite active public figure as well.

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