Saturday, July 16, 2011

Csizmadi Balazs: modern metal alchemist, painter and sculptor

"I'm not a serial killer, I'm a painter" Sculpture by Csizmadi Balasz Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

At 27, Csizmadei Balazs scavanges his mind for ideas and anywhere for metal to prepare and paint with acrylics.

Balazs, "Sun"  ("Szan" in Hungarian) to his friends and colleagues in the Forgacsoltkult (pron. For-gazsh) Group of 19 younger Szentendre contemporary artists [see, considers himself an "alchemist" painter of "ambient" metals.

Csizmadi Balazs solo show at Folt Cafe, Szentendre, Hungary Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Ambient" is his euphemism for road signs and other pieces of aluminium he liberates and recylces into his acrylic on metal works.

Csizmadi Balazs Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Balazs this weekend takes down his first solo show of acrylic on metal paintings at the Folt Cafe in Szentendre, Hungary, about 20 kilometers north of Budapest.

Armed with an axe, hammer, dangerous chemicals and acids, metal engraving tools and cutting torch, Balazs attacks his works but only after he takes sometimes months to conceive a concept and image.

The final work becomes a product of serendipity, chance and fate as well as deliberate conception.

"Costa Brava" by Csizmadi Balazs Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

When installing his show at the Folt, meeting point for the Forgacsoltkult, he planned to put up a narrative line of 20 small format black and white graphics, also laden with dark themes. The space dictated he change course.

He did.

Instead, he built what he calls his "Beheaded Pyramid" with his highly textured black owl on metal as focal point.

"I love working when the sun comes up, at dawn," he says. He often also creates under artificial light. One of his walls at home is black. He says he likes the dimensions of black.

"The Slave" by Csizmadi Balazs Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"When the sun rises, just before the sun rises, there's much energy; sky light is coming of the new day; it's the biggest inspiration time in my life."

Like many of his colleagues, he works one or more day jobs, splicing in time dedicated for art. 

Why did he choose metal as his medium?

Csizmadi Balazs untitled acrylic on metal Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Detail of untitled above (depicting intelligence) by Csizmadi Balazs Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"I can identify with metal; I like the modern alchemy and it's a natural way for me to pursue my concept art and create visuals rooted in my mind, from emotional problems," he adds.

"I'm not a serial killer, I'm a painter, but serial killers are more important in America," he says, smiling broadly.

Untitled by Csizmadi Balazs Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Before he started in metals about three years ago, Balazs took his raw talents into art schools in Budapest.

He immersed himself in traditional genre such as still lifes, figurative drawing and painting.

But the young Hungarian from the nearby village of Tahitotfalu, eight kilometers from Szentendre (24,000 pop.), found himself swimming against the waves.

The first art school dismissed him after a year.


He didn't get on with most of his professors. 

And he didn't like the curriculum.

"I was quite stuborn always and didn't have a good relationship with my teachers; I didn't want to use traditional techniques like canvas or wood and was thinking about something different," he tells me.

"I don't want the cages or boxes they try to put into your mind."

After the first art school, he found himself in another but that too proved disappointing and he dropped out only to drop in to his preferred medium, metal.

In one of his large format works, he wanted to create waves in the metal.

He placed stones strategically under the metal and drove a car over a slab of aluminum.

Balasz also sculpts in concrete....or did until his arm became infected and he was forced to give it up, at least for now.

Graphics by Csizmadi Balazs Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Csizmadi Balazs graphic work Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

One of his sculptures appears at the Folt and is pictured above.
The metal artist has also exhibited in a small group exhibition in a Budapest bank, curated by friend and art historian from Szentendre, Reka Diem.

Diem said when Balasz exhibited for the first time, he wanted to almost hide his works, put them in a dark corner. "He lacked confidence."

Csizmadi Balazs with "Beheaded Pyramid" Photograph by Stephen van Drake (2011)

Instead, she showcased them on a prominent wall.

"He was quite happy about it," said Diem, a recent MFA graduate.

Balazs also painted a 2 x 3-meter mural at a cafe a friend rented and operated. 

It recently closed, another victim of the financial crisis. 

Balazs does not plan to leave this legacy behind.

"I will whitewash over it," he says, describing the mural as depicting three Szentendre church towers in red, black and orange against a sky bristling with lightening.

He has yet to sell any of his metal works and considers building his private collection more important.

Two-thirds of another untitled acrylic on metal work by Csizmadi Balazs (made to fit at the Folt Cafe)
The artist took an axe to the piece on site, creating a tryptch.  Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"I would sell the "Slave," maybe," he adds, but only because he needs money to take a holiday with his new girlfriend, Anita.

She is sufficient reward for his Folt show.

"Art saved my life," he says, also emphasizing that one of the girls he invited to his Folt opening turned out to be Anita.

"I am grateful to the Folt exhibition because of this girl now."

Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

"Miroma´s Majesty," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2008)

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