“I fell in love with Hungarian culture ”

A painter and potter, Jahangir Matboo has been living and workingin Budapest for ten years. He told us why he feels at home in Hungary,but you can ask your own questions when visiting his studio during a guided tour on 14 April. Author: Máté Csabai

In the cozy basement where Jahan-matboo works, you can smell clay and paints, a scent that is no longer familiar to urbanite people. Jahan works on a vase when I arrive, he paints it blue. “I like playing with blue”, he says. “It’s simple.”
Jahan came to Budapest ten years ago – his family lives in Copenhagen. “I met some people who practice the art of pottery, and I fell in love with Hungarian culture.” As a painter, he became a member of Tűzraktér, then later moved on to be the artistic director of Art Station. “After I had my first exhibition, I felt like here I can do what I do best. There are places in the world where you just find yourself, and for me, Hungary is certainly a place like that.”
Jahan lives in the Bartók District, a truly inspirational quarter of Budapest. “There must be more than 20 studios like this in the area. And the foundation, Péter Mátyási’s Eleven Blokk is a great help.”
When I ask Jahan what he likes about Hungary, he mostly talks about the people. “They are helpful, sharing— they believe in love.” It wasn’t planned, it just happened that he set foot here. “When you leave your own culture, you actually see more of it. I’m always wondering how could be a bridge between the two cultures. I learnt a lot here, and now I try to give something back. I never had problems because of where I come from, but I don’t believe in borders either. Cultures don’t know borders.”
“It doesn’t matter where I live as long as I can practice art and find beauty in it. I could live in New York, I could live everywhere. The sky is blue, and it’s up to you”, he says.

I ask him if he’s going to stay in Hungary. “I stay unless I feel useless here. Last year I participated in a project, during which we cleaned the Danube. In June we invited an Iranian master to a workshop.” Nowadays, he only paints for his own pleasure, but he still makes pottery. He knows people tend to buy factory-made products, but assures me there are customers who value handicraft. “Why would you buy Chinese pots in Ikea if there are potters in the city?”
People are losing physical touch with original material, I add. “Not everybody needs to be a potter. But to be active means being happy”, he says. On 14 April during the Budapest Art Week festival, a guided tour will take you through the studio where we talked. “Perhaps I’ll meet you then.”

Máté Csabai  |   2019/04/15

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