Monday, 31 March 2014

Off With His Head

There is something more than a little strange about the world as depicted in the paintings of Orr Máté [in Hungarian the surname is always placed first]. Human forms may sport the head of animals, violence erupts in sword or saw, in axe or arrow, in a Still Life one senses putrefaction, a cabbage rots, fungi fester, birds and beasts are exiled from their natural habitat to become part of a domestic scene, the familiar translates to the unfamiliar, the known to the unknown.

Orr Máté answering a point in his Budapest studio with a work in progress

For Orr Máté, the curious attracts and the more curious the greater the attraction. Born in 1985 and a graduate of The Hungarian University of Fine Arts in Budapest, Orr Máté is, without a shadow of a doubt, with numerous exhibitions to his name and his work widely collected in both Europe and the United States of America, one of the rising stars of Hungarian painters of his generation.

shelves in the studio are filled with an eclectic mix of objects and materials

A visit to his Budapest studio is a telling experience. Here, amongst the brushes and well worked tubes of oil paint, are to be found provisional sketches [for every painting is painstakingly worked from concept to completion], maquettes, works in progress and completed canvases. Shelves display a miscellany of objet trouvé: a gilded skull, a porcelain rabbit, a plastic lobster. Inspiration is taken from life itself.

a near finished painting, with preliminary oil sketches, indicates the process of work

Enquiries of his work are answered with a quiet assurance and authority which emanate from a lively, intelligent and creative mind whilst a very real sense of humour and fun make this self-effacing painter, who describes his work as 'Baroque-Futurism', a joy to know and to count as a friend.

in the drawing room Orr Máté is pictured with some sketches relating to a commission

It would, we feel, be presumptuous to call ourselves 'Collectors' of Orr Máté's work, or indeed anyone else's. But with two [and one tiny] paintings now hanging on our walls, and an exciting commission under way, possibly we may at least be thought of as 'Interested'!! We rather hope so!!

'Scene with Hare', a moment in time captured, hangs above the sideboard

Today our newest acquisition 'Pelican' or, as we think of it, 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' [with apologies to James Joyce], impacts upon the drawing room. Here in this nude self-portrait are to be found so many familiar elements: the often repeated motif of the chequerboard; the human head replaced [in this case with that of a bird]; the suggested threat of danger [the weapon]; the 'flat' Matisse-type paint effects. With closer observation the fiery red of the bird's beak assumes a phallic quality, in direct contrast to the shadowy genitals, the axe points inwards to create a disturbing tension whilst the stance of the figure itself suggests on the one hand virile masculinity and, on the other, human vulnerability.

here the artist unpacks the newest of our paintings, an oil on canvas, titled 'Pelican'
'Pelican', oil on canvas, positioned in the drawing room - certain to excite comment
On Friday evening Orr Máté accompanied us to the State Opera House for a production of Wagner's 'The Flying Dutchman' . Somehow fitting, or so we think!

Orr Máté at the opera prior to the performance. Lance Hattatt is pictured in the glass seated
after the opera enjoying pudding in the bar of The Four Seasons Hotel, Budapest

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Off the Tracks

Lance Hattatt and Rafael González Paz: the gateway of Colonia del Sacramento

Had there been a railway, then we should have travelled to Colonia del Sacramento by train. But, alas, the Central Uruguay Railway, in British control from 1878 until Nationalisation in 1948, is no more and so, per force, we resorted to the bus.

a woman seen through an open doorway sits patiently beside her Christmas Tree
a cobbled street within the Old Town leads down towards the River Plate and the sea

Some three hours later, our route having taken us along avenues of palm trees, we alighted in the old quarter, designated a World Heritage Site, of this historic town where shady squares, cobbled streets and quiet alleys gave voice to a time having stood still.

the vibrancy and colour of South America is reflected in the interior of this small café

A set of tickets, purchased to give entrance to all museums, proved an unwise buy. Firmly closed for the summer holidays, we could only speculate as to what lay behind those locked doors. From the top of a lighthouse we wished ourselves across the still waters of the River Plate to where the distant spires of Buenos Aires rose visible through the haze of heat.

foiled once more as yet another museum advertises itself closed for the summer holidays
snapshots taken in the restaurant after a long lunch - a welcome respite from the heat
across a stretch of the River Plate, seen from the lighthouse, the city of Buenos Aires

Once more on terra firma we lingered over lunch, befriended stray cats, pressed our noses to the glass of unshuttered windows, wrote on picture postcards, scorned souvenirs, snapped snapshots and painted our lips red. Later, as the shadows of the day lengthened, we clambered over rocks, hunted for sea shells and, as all travellers do, dreamt dreams.

looking out to sea from the shore but, in fact, at the very edge of the River Plate 
in the late afternoon sun on the banks of the River Plate at Colonia del Sacramento