Imre Égerházi was born in Hajdúhadház in 1925. He was a descendant of János Egerházi Képíró, a 17th-century fresco artist from Mezőbánd. In the early 1930s, when he was a small child, his family moved to Debrecen. There he attended the Free School of Fine Arts, studying under the painter József Menyhárt. He always maintained active links with his home town, to which he donated a large part of his oeuvre in 1985, and he added to this collection for the rest of his life. Hajdúhadház provided Imre Égerházi with a creative centre, which was more than a studio: it was also an important meeting place for the region’s artists. After his death the creative centre continued to operate as a memorial centre, where one can view more than one hundred outstanding works from his life’s work.
Imre Égerházi created an internationally unique exhibition of panel paintings in the Földi János Bilingual Primary School and Elementary Art School in Hajdúhadház. He not only painted two outstandingly important panel paintings for his former school, but he also asked his European and American painter friends to do the same.
The Hajdúhadház Gallery was also his brainchild and creation. He did much for the town as an artist, artistic organiser and committed supporter of youth. In recognition of all this Hajdúhadház awarded him freedom of the town in 1992.
From 1962 onwards Imre Égerházi exhibited in more than one hundred solo and four hundred group exhibitions, from Europe to the United States and Japan.
In 1964 he was a founding member of the Hajdúböszörmény International Artists’ Colony, where he worked for thirty years. For twenty years from the early 1970s he took part in the Working Exhibitions series, which he led in its final ten years. In 1982 he re-established the Hortobágy Artists’ Camp. From the end of the 1960s until the year of his death he was the most prominent Hungarian patron of Hungarian artists beyond the borders. Before the fall of communism, on several occasions he personally invited to the two colonies Hungarian artists from neighbouring countries; in the face of the authorities of the time, this was at no small risk to him personally. He helped these artists by providing tranquil surroundings to work in, the opportunity to exhibit and establish contacts, catalogues and financial support. He formed Hungarian painters, graphic designers and photographers into unique, open communities, which were joined by large numbers of artists from all over the world. In this way Hajdúság and Hortobágy became part of the international art world.
As a result if his work at the art colonies and the quality of his art, Imre Égerházi often received invitations from art camps abroad.
He regularly visited Gyergyószárhegy and Nagybánya (Romania). Other international art colonies in which Imre Égerházi spent a significant amount of time included the following: Szabadka/Subotica (Serbia); Grožnjan (Croatia); Dubrinics, Kamianka, Munkács/Mukacheve (Ukraine); Kazimierz Dolny, Lublin (Poland); Potsdam (Germany); Bessans, St. Michel (France). This list is not exhaustive.
He went on study tours to several countries: Shumen (Bulgaria), Klaipeda, Neringa (Lithuania) and Jyväskylä (Finland). He received funding for some such tours from the city of Debrecen in recognition of his work and as further encouragement for his career.
In the 1990s he was elected honorary president of the French Association Les Européennes de l’Art en Thiérache.
By the new millennium Imre Égerházi was regarded as one of the Alföld’s leading masters. He had gained great recognition in Hungary and beyond its borders for his art and his organisational work in the world of art.
He worked with undiminished vigour up until his death, continuing in his office job until 1985, as he could only focus exclusively on his painting and organisation of artists’ colonies after his retirement. He saw the financial security of his family as even more important than his creative work.
Imre Égerházi not only worked for his own artistic success, but he also did much for artistic communities and colleagues. For this reason he was respected and loved more than most. In the course of his life he received twenty-one state and professional honours.
His paintings can be seen in the Hungarian National Gallery, and his oeuvre is represented in the Imre Égerházi Memorial Centre in Hajdúhadház, the Déri Museum in Debrecen, and in museums, public institutions and collections in Hungary and abroad.