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Writing his own story – we interview painter Gergely Gyuricza

Writers

  • sponsored WLB

30/11/2021 8.54am

Gyuricza discovered his creative self through art therapy, a decade ago as a psychologist. He now exhibits in foreign galleries, and his paintings inspired by the movie Fight Club have become a well-known meme. We interview the artist about to invent creative freedom by using the tools of art – and about why creativity belongs to everyone.

We Love Budapest: How did your relationship with art begin?

Gyuricza: I came to painting in rather a roundabout way, because I’m originally a psychologist. After the death of my mother, I was not coping well, and one of my psychology professors suggested that I should participate in art therapy. After overcoming my initial objections, i took my first step on an amazingly transformative, liberating journey to get in touch with myself. I really liked the version of myself I discovered through art. A spontaneous, creative, open-minded part of myself that I hadn’t encountered before. I am a very performance-oriented person, but art to me is like playing is to a child, the creative process is in itself its own reward. We easily slip into the role of being good citizens to always arrive on time, to pay the bills, etc. These are very important things in a functioning society, but you often end up sacrificing yourself on the altar of productivity.

Space Junk, 100 x 100cm, wood fibre and acrylic paint, 2015, Pécs

Photo: Gyuricza

WLB: What kind of pictures do you paint? What is your style, what are your themes?

Gy: Basically, all of my images have a central figure, this is an object-oriented, non-abstract form of pop art. The background loses its importance and I focus on one main element. My subjects, probably because I’m a psychologist, are people, portraits and faces. The most beautiful thing in the world is the human body. Our body is unique within its own parameters and perfect in itself, it lives with us, it carries our identity. It's enchanting as each body tells a story that is unique to the individual.  All of these stories can naturally contradict, even if they differ slightly. We as humans are not merely the shape of the body that we occupy or the specific description of behaviour. We're a multiplicity of stories, stories that often come in repetitive patterns that can be rewritten and reread.

WLB: Can you define the styles and eras in your work?

Gy: I have topics which I’ve been working on for about five years. The first was Loud and Close, which was about death and mortality. It has to do with my mother, and a car accident that I suffered. Art is one of the best tools to start dealing with your own mortality. And there is certainly room for improvement in how we deal with this as a society.

Empire Poppin', 45 x 65cm, wood fibre and acrylic/spray paint, 2016, Budapest

Photo: Gyuricza

WLB: How did your work develop after that? What was your next big topic?

Gy: I was accepted into the National Association of Independent Hungarian Artists, where I had to create an introductory exhibition as a sort of mission statement. It was then that I began to investigate the topic of beauty, naming the series Tulip. It’s the individual responsibility of every human being to establish a relationship with beauty. I would recommend that everyone should purchase a painting or a photo, a drawing or a graphic, and use this one single artwork as your starting point, your window into the domain of beauty. We’re good at creating functional spaces, but when I say there’s a space here, transform it into something beautiful, a lot of people will get nervous. Yet artistic taste can be developed through an interactive process, with steps and stumbles.

The Dark Knight and The Clown Prince, 30 x 40cm, mounted canvas, acrylic & UV paint, Gothenburg, Sweden

Photo: Gyuricza

Risen from the Foam, 14 x 22.5cm, maquette & spray paint, 2018, Vienna

Photo: Gyuricza

WLB: Tell me something about your third era.

Gy: What’s going on right now is Urban Erotica. Wherever the digital society and modern values ​​have set foot, erotic life and desire are in crisis. Just as people struggle to create beauty, they struggle to live their own erotic lives, with intensity, energy and spontaneity. It's also a kind of erotica.

WLB: As I understand it, erotica is what you call the openness which helps us to know how to, to dare, to be attracted and submit?

Gy: Yes, and it can even be expressed in the workplace. An erotic project is one where you put all your passion and energy into it, yet it recharges and reinvigorates. Erotica is the ability to connect with our capacity to fantasise.

Fältherre, 140 x 80cm, canvas & acrylic paint, 2019, Budapest

Photo: Gyuricza

WLB: What has this got to do with art?

Gy: It has been my naive observation that when I stand in front of the canvas, time loses all meaning as the creative process rewards me. I am not anxious, I am in the present. It is precisely these qualities that all researchers suggest as prerequisites for success in the bedroom. You take your foot off the brake, you are in the moment and you experience harmony with your body. This is what I am trying to bring together in my current pictures.

La Casa Azul, 90 x 130cm, canvas & oils, 2021, Budapest

Photo: Gyuricza

WLB: But why urban? What does this word mean within the name of the topic?

Gy: It refers to the negative effects of urbanisation. We get stuck in cities, and this overstimulated, overcrowded lifestyle stifles eroticism. We are unable to experience spontaneity, which is a prerequisite for creative activity. Man has lost touch with his rewarding, creative, spontaneous elements, and this state of mind has been replaced by anxiety.

Stand Out, 100 x 100cm, canvas & acrylic paint, 2020, Budapest

Photo: Gyuricza

WLB: We hear more and more about living in an overly individual, selfish environment, unable to connect with each other. Do you think this is what we experience in anxiety?

Gy: Love reduces the distance between us, love aims to minimise conflict. Passion is the opposite, as it often draws out negative traits such as jealousy, anger and deception. What sets eroticism apart from love is that it is selfish, in the best sense of the word, as I need to be able to stay in touch with myself while I am with another person. Take, for example, a romantic dinner, where you're not admiring how wonderful your partner looks or how the oyster tastes. Instead, you're more concerned with the parking meter running out.

Dietary Hungarian Muse, 50 x 70cm, canvas & oils, spray paint and patchwork, 2021, Budapest

Photo: Gyuricza

WLB: What can we do to avoid this?

Gy: People have lost the ability to be themselves, trying to figure out if what they are doing works for the other. Erotica and art are similar in a way that in order to be successful, you need to let go of the illusion of being selfless, and accept you need a certain amount of selfishness in the best sense of the word: the ability to stay connected to oneself in the presence of another. For example, a carpenter doesn’t hammer in nails on the roof by thinking about how to hold the tool so that it can glint in the light or that someone else wants it this way, but is immersed in what he is doing, he enjoys his job, the process itself is its own reward. This is how you arrive at the flow state, and the observer perceives it and finds it attractive. One of the three biggest turn-ons, across all countries, all genders and all ages is that we find the person in a state of flow attractive, we want to connect with them.

Pikachu the Love Doctor, 17 x 17cm (actual size 6.5 x 8cm), plywood & oils, 2021, Somlószőlős

Photo: Gyuricza

WLB: How do we reach this ideal state? Would everyone have this opportunity?

Gy: If there is one thing I would like you to take away from this conversation, it is that you should just pawn your sense of anxiety and use the funds to buy a typewriter or enrol in an acting class because there are no technological boundaries on self-expression any more. And that being the case, the only real question is whether I’m brave enough to bet on myself, to follow my own path, and write my own story. I encourage everyone to bet on themselves because no-one else will.

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