Csontvary "An Extraordinary Master of Hungarian Painting"
October 21 - December 12, 2010
Csontváry was an artist of the turn of the century. The richness and complexity in his works cannot be characterised on the basis of stylistic categories. Realistic observation, emphasis on the changing light, the decorative, orgiastic use of colour characteristic of Post-Impressionism, the large-scale handling of form and the strong diffraction of the colours often appear simultaneously on the same canvas.
The exhibition invited us to discover the works of this extraordinary Hungarian artist, who wrote poetry with paintings that reflect his vision beyond the currents of the period, his unique colors, his symbolic narrative, and the "divine voice" he claims to have heard.
"As a schoolboy I hated memorizing by heart; I looked at the Bible as a tale, and I rather longed to be outside in nature to listen to the warbling of the nightingale, to gaze at a flower here and there, where the polliniferous petals were busy with whole swarms of butterflies, bees, bumblebees and insects."
Mihály Tivadar Csontváry was born in Kisszeben on 5 July 1853. He had five siblings; hunting was one of his father's passions. As a child, Csontváry excelled in games, hunting, and skating and was an equally poor student. Consequently, his father took Csontváry to Eperjes, where he worked as a salesman for more than three years. Next, he studied chemistry and became a pharmacist. Following the catastrophe of the Szeged flood in 1863 and a subsequent period of rest, Csontváry found himself drawing an ox-cart on a prescription in front of the pharmacy in Igló. Having run a considerably profitable pharmacy for nearly a decade, Csontváry decided, in 1894, to pursue his dream at the age of 41 and travelled to Munich and Karlsruhe and from there on to Italy and the Dalmatian coast. He was first enrolled at the Academy of Düsseldorf and later at Académie Julian in Paris. Abandoning academic training shortly thereafter, Csontváry headed for Pompeii and embarked upon an extended tour of the Italian coast. Next, he discovered Europe, Egypt, and Jerusalem. In the course of his travels, he stopped by in İstanbul in 1913. He died in 1919 as the loneliest and most extraordinary artist of Hungary.