"Children should be seen and seldom heard" is a credo that our parents subscribed to fully. One learned how to play quietly, never to speak at the dining table and only to venture an opinion when directly asked for it. No doubt a reaction to this parenting has resulted in our natural exuberance wherever we go, our love of loud chatter at dinner and our forthright views on anything from the price of fish to the philosophy of the human condition.
|Lance Hattatt in contemplation before 'Ambivalent Space' by Róbert Várady [image JRH]|
And perhaps our childhood experiences, most often as viewers of adult behaviour rather than as fully involved participants, have also accounted for our independence from the mainstream, of being outsiders and observers, ever the individuals as opposed to part of the crowd. We have found a kindred spirit.
We were introduced to Róbert Várady, the painter, and his works through the Várfok Gallery, Budapest's oldest privately owned art gallery. He is self-effacing, open and erudite. His art is powerful, haunting and, at once, both highly representative of the age to which it belongs and, yet, of another era entirely.
|the painter Róbert Várady in front of his oil on canvas, 'Metropolis III', at the Várfok Gallery|
Realistically painted figures occupy a space and time which, in turns, is real and unreal, fixed and yet floating. They share an interface with a variety of geometric images, carefully drawn yet never clear cut. And, no matter how many characters there are, they appear to have no real underlying connection one with another nor, indeed, with their observers. The viewer, never pampered, patronised or comforted is challenged to make something of it all.
|'Doing Business at Full Moon' , Róbert Várady, oil on canvas 2011, at the Várfok Gallery|
In similar ways to how the new technologies confront humans constantly to reappraise and decode an ever developing cyberspace, so Várady's pictures ask questions, pose ideas and invite one to wrestle with the task of making sense of the individual and of society at large.
|'Unidentified Object Slightly Radiating', Róbert Várady, oil on canvas 2011, Várfok Gallery|
The art historian, Andrea Bordács, has written that "Várady's painting is the art of no man's land". Meditative and lonely figures, seen but not heard, seek an identity for self and a place in an almost virtual world. What better metaphor for life in 2013?
N.B. The exhibition, Várady Róbert / Tér(v)iszony, runs at the Várfok Gallery, 1012 Budapest, Várfok utca 11 until March 2nd.