JÁNOS HUSZTI: ON THE PRECIPICE OF GREATNESS
János Huszti is one of the most fasinating and provocative artists working In Hungary today. His work trancends descriptions and transports viewers into his, sometimes haotic, sometines mezmorizing world. Resident is honroed to interview him here:
I started to get interested in the arts quite early. But my artistic career did not begin until the middle of my twenties. After graduating from elementary school, I went on to study at a communications engineering high school. I was always placed at the end of the line when it came to talent, yet I knew I was much better than this. Unfortunately, I wasn't in the right place at that time.
After graduating high school, I began to work hard at a variety of jobs, while trying to get into a university. I worked as a mailman, sold minerals; I was a handworker and a ceramic painter. I also served my one-year military service requirement in West Hungary as a border guard. It was a very interesting atmosphere, especially for a character like me. I was stationed at the Schengen border zone at that time. We would spend eight hours in the woods, lying on the ground, both in summer- and wintertime, sometimes totally alone, waiting for someone to step out from the forest. I had never felt nature so closely before. Finally, after six years, I was admitted to the University of Pécs, Faculty of Music and Visual Arts, painting department in South Hungary.
I also spent one semester at the University Of Hertfordshire, in Hatfield, which is one of the top 150 universities in the world. I learned a lot about conceptual art during that semester and returned to Hungary almost a different person. England is kind of the center for Western culture for Hungarian people, even in education. I realized in Hatfield that I had been taught much academically at my university so far. It was fine, I just really needed a different, more creative environment.
Eventually, I started to think differently about art. After I received my degree in 2005, I tried to immerse myself into the Hungarian art scene. My professor once told me, every artist after getting their diploma tries to make room for themselves among other artists, and so I did. The problem is that Hungary is a small country, everybody knows everybody, especially in the art world. To get close to this environment you have to be in the right place at the right time.
I encountered difficulties again after I left my studies. By force of habit, I was still continuing my hard work. After spending years at my craft, suddenly an online gallery (Saatchi Art) started to sell my work. The internet had opened the gates to the world I was waiting for.
Meanwhile, in Hungary only one of my paintings sold via a contemporary gallery, whereas close to 200 paintings were sold around the world online. Two American galleries contacted me, and they organized more solo and collaborative shows. A Madrid-based gallery found me last year and showed three of my paintings at the Singapore Art Fair.
I collaborated with Munich- and Stockholm-based galleries as well. I would say there is a lot of interest now; however, I keep searching for my own way. As for influences, Gerhard Richter was one of my first loves. Recently Neo Rauch, Adrian Ghenie and Nicola Samori have also had an impact.
I have started a brand-new series this spring, called Amygdala's Hall. I would call them abstracted portraits. The amygdala processes reactions to violations concerning personal space. Moving back to my hometown from Budapest, where I spent the last six years in different studios, with several contemporary artists, I now enjoy the pleasure of being alone, in my own studio space. My studio is called Reanimatio House, which means to bring someone back from a state of death. This, I feel, could even apply to me.