Introduction

I was born in Kunszentmárton, a tiny rural village on the Hungarian plains. Currently I live a double-resident life in my hometown and nearby Kecskemét. I graduated from the PGCE teacher training college in Eger and my postgraduate degree is from the Lajos Kossuth University of Sciences in Debrecen. I used to work as a teacher, journalist and book publisher.

I began painting for a profession in the early nineties. For many years, I worked alongside Janos Bozso, holder of the national Munkacsy-prize, who was my friend and tutor. My first exhibition took place in 1997, and from then on further ones followed, first in and around Kecskemét and later in the capital, Budapest. I was present in numerous artist colonies in Hungary and in Slovakia, from the towns of Kecel, Tiszakürt, Bugac, Lakitelek to Cesky Krumlov.

I returned to my hometown at the end of the nineties, initiating the establishment of a local artists’ colony. During summer 2000 this materialised and the Society of Free Creators (Alkotók Szabad Társasága) was formed simultaneously, of which I became artistic director. I wrote and published two books: ‘Our secrets’, a collection of short stories in 1996 and a volume entitled ‘Roamings of a painter’ in 2004, in which I recorded my experiences gained as a painter.

The subject of my art is the Hungarian Plains, the villages; and first and foremost the world of my hometown. The scenery of Tiszazug, enveloping the terrain along the River Körös, has had an immense influence on my painting up to this day. The vast majority of my work is produced plein-air. The perception of reality inspires me and releases emotions and tensions within. Thus, during painting my pictures, I mostly concentrate on my emotions, on the spiritual responses that a single scenic motif or situation evokes in me.

This picture has been taken in my Kunszentmárton workshop. I’m holding my favourite stand in my hands. It’s fifteen years of age at minimum and smothered in paint. Quite ramshackle, the poor thing. I still relish her, it’s always her whom I take when I’m on painting excursions out in the open. Even though I’ve been presented with replacements, and not just once, I still insist on my elderly, worn-out companion.

The minute I step out of my house I find themes for pictures. The precincts of my little Kunszentmárton abode are beautiful. It’s especially dazzling in spring when the shrubbery and the trees are in blossom, the ditch-bank is blooming, and besides, the dyke-side dresses up in a flamboyant green. In such times I don’t even have to take one step for experiences and it’s enough just to set up my stand in front of my gate.

This field of poppies and larkspurs flaunts a few meters away from my house, on the offside of the Körös-dyke. Of course, that’s only in spring, and not every year in fact, depending on the Körös water levels. If the weather is dry enough then the meadow between the river and the dyke blooms up. No-one can pass by this marvelous spectacle without a word. Not to mention a painter! The only downside is the lack of shadow-spreading trees nearby. But as luck would have it, I’ve got a hat.

The bend of the Körös is my perpetual subject matter. I’ve painted it a hundred times, in morning mist, midday heat, or at the lights of sunset. No matter where I look, I’m standing on the same spot. Kunszentmárton folk walking by don’t even notice me, I’ve become part of the landscape and they’re used to my sight. Rozsi, my elderly lady friend, lives nearby and she always pays her respects when I’m around.

Strolling along towards Szelevény, there’s caught-up water forming a beautiful lake between the old and the new dykes. It’s become a residence for storks and herons. I relish this place. One can smell the odours of the water and the dyke peak is a perfect vantage point from where the village of Szelevény is visible. I’m mesmerised by the view of neverending plains and by the monstrous silence. I feel free here. I’d be inclined to set off on the slanting paths that criss-cross pastures and meander into infinity.

The inexhaustible Aranyosi woods, the “Gilded woods’! I’m not too certain where its name stems from but, for a fact, the crown of the poplar forest turns yellow in autumn and from a distance it does radiate in gold. Majestic spectacle, that. I paint here often, in every season. My favourite is the autumn here: that’s when lights are warm and the sunset behind tree tops conjures up an enigmatic ambience.

This is Rozsi’s garden. Peculiarly, I lived here for a few years in my childhood and I loved this atmosphere even back then. Another peculiarity about this garden is its monumental size, you can hardly see from one end to the other. Rozsi is ninety years old and lived her whole life in these corners, virtually. She’s still over the moon every morning when she steps on her verandah and catches sight of her roses, blooming fruit trees and green grass. I wouldn’t be able to count the many pictures I’ve painted here. For me, this place symbolises eternity, even though the garden is never the same, it changes with the hour of the day.

We used to take a walk on the Körös-bank every evening with my dog Borka, my faithful companion. Often we would set out when the moon came up. I enjoyed these moonlit, mysterious night walks. Nowadays I’m roaming these scenes on my own, with an aching heart. My dear barker passed away last autumn. The Körös-vicinity still overawes me. I still start up sometimes, alongside the river, marvelling at the beauty of nature but without Borka it’s different somehow. Her absence hurts and my soul is in pain, which renders the terrain appear more plaintive.

This picture was snapped at the porch of my friends’ cottage in Csopak. When I’m travelling, I carry my painter’s equipment with me. A new experience can be inspiring, such as the landscape near Lake Balaton.

I cannot do away with painting plein-air even in wintertime: this photo was taken in December. In November, I still work outside frequently and if it’s not too cold and snowing I would visit the Körös-dyke to paint even under a winter sun. Of course, on freezing cold days the warmth of the studio feels cozy but as soon as the weather mellows I rush outdoors! Out there it’s all different: the experience is stronger, the air is cleaner, there’s no stifling feeling of confinement and I feel free.