There is always something intimate, personal, about his photographs, but not sentimentally personal; there is rather a point of reference, a sign of life – an object, a figure, a light, a movement – that connects the viewer with what he sees.
Here something has definitely changed. This is not a new townscape but a new lifestyle, the capital’s new pulse, its changed biorhythm.
The mysterious forms and ominous shadows of an unlikely-looking but brilliantly lit factory building, however, are perhaps quotations from an anti-capitalist illustrated book.
Almost every picture is like that, but perhaps none expresses the duality of the detailed, commonplace realism and allegorical depiction so typical of Gábor Fekete as powerfully as the photograph that reproduces the ’60s mood of the retro-coffee bar Bambi. We see a fully lit but empty room in which there is a single person, perhaps a member of staff, perhaps a forgotten customer, nor can we tell whether the establishment has just closed or is about to close. As is his wont, Fekete employs a reference point that contrasts with the main motif, which here is the street, sunken into darkness, and a motor-scooter immersed in gloom: in this grim frame there appears the brilliantly lit, empty coffee-bar. Both viewpoint and composition recall Edward Hopper’s painting Nighthawks. But whereas in Hopper’s picture the way in which typical customers are drinking – in other words, normal human activity – expresses a desperate loneliness that permeates everything and everyone, the function of the female figure in the Bambi photograph is unknown, so that the meaning of the picture is completely uncertain. We do not know why she is there, how she feels and what she would like? It is even possible that she is happy, or is merely dozing, or actually planning revenge. I might say, somewhat pretentiously, that in place of Hopper’s predestination the subject of Fekete’s photograph is free will.
He has discovered something that no one else has documented, at least as far as this city was concerned.
It is hard to imagine a local photographer being as dispassionate an admirer of the Budapest scene as Gábor Fekete. He harbours no prejudice, has no secret agenda. Generally speaking he does not beautify, but neither does he delight in ugliness. He is not affected by the common clichés, complexes, commonplaces. He discovers, enjoys, is surprised. He takes photographs as if he were seeing this city for the first time. That, surely, is why he succeeds in persuading those that view his photographs that they too are seeing it for the first time.