Breznay Pál

breznay_pal-1Budapest is a “spa town” of special atmosphere, having a characteristic bathing culture.“ I was lying at the third floor sunbathing terrace, and I felt again the strange intimacy of the spot. In my childhood our family spent the summer in the Lukács swimming pool. That time we peeked the swimmers across the slots of the baluster railings. One day, just for kidding, my brothers and myself threw water-filled plastic bags down to the pool. We were warned off as pranksters. Twenty years passed since then. In a daze of heat, I looked down to the turquoise-cobalt water. I was dazzled by the colorful swarm of the swimmers, making a mesh of light, gently dancing in the water. Next day I took a small canvas.”

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I made 15 large canvasses then, what I stored in our old family cabin, thanks to the lifeguard, my friend. For four years I was at the pool all summer. Before starting painting, I carefully watched the water, constantly in motion, and the swimmers. I almost ‘photographed’ with my eyes the system of the light circles of the golden sunlight. As an adventure, the rays of the sunlight were almost flown from my hand. I imagined the best color of the middlepoint, what I distributed on the canvas aquarelle-like. Shadows were painted softly, and translucently, while the lights strongly.

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I painted the seas, the lakes and the rivers all around the word: the diamond-like shimmering sunlight of the Lake Velence, the stormy and luminous greens of the Lake Balaton, the blue sky and the trees in green, mirrored by the silty yellow of the River Rába, the grey and green of the Bosporus with the silhouettes of the minarets, transforming to turquoise fluorescent or bluish opaqueness after storm, reflections of the night Venice lights, the green water-plane of the Aven at the famous Bois d’ Amour, and ice-cold mountain creeks in the canyons of red cliffs in 40-degree heat.

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We were nine children, so there was always someone at home. Returning home from the school one day, the door was locked. I sat on the stairs for an hour. When the family got home, I went to the workshop and instead lunch I rasped a key. My father, colorists himself, cried out with a sight of relieve: “this boy will be a goldsmith!” I protested indignantly: I wanted to be a painter! But he said: “In this family we have enough ones learning to paint, you need a normal profession, and later you can be even a painter!”

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At the High School of Art we were taught by sculptors. Unlike painters’ class, we learnt form drawing, not light and shade. One day I had to draw a stuffed bird. At its wings, I neatly shaded the feathers. “But boy, it is a picturesque drawing!” – the teacher grumbled. So I went to Ravenna to the painting and mosaic making majors of the Academy of Fine Arts.

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My teacher in painting was a follower of Morandi. To start, I painted the model in profile. He praised me with fascination: “ You paint as the great masters”. But I disappointed soon. It is not enough that instead of Renaissance we were working in the mood of Paris masters, but for three months we needed to paint a model, sitting on a sand-colored mattress with a khaki blanket. I told the professor, how about more drapery. The janitor brought me to a military shop, where sand and khaki colored textiles were found. However, I pressed him to purchase some deep red and turquoise silks from an other shop. The prof gasped and rumbled: “ We do not agree. You must not destroy a whole world!” While in the morning everyone outlined the new color scheme, afternoon he made them to paint everything sand and khaki.

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After four years and a graduation, I went to Paris to enroll to the Academy of Arts. There was a totally different atmosphere. I started there to deal really with the projection of light and the relationship of the exterior and interior. Sometimes I went back to Ravenna, to observe the Mediterranean sun shining to the walls of the corridor and the floor. Soon I could organize my first exhibition in Paris. For more than twenty years I have had a small atelier in Paris. From the window at the 8th floor I can see the Eiffel Tower. Here I can do what is the desire of every painter: to create unprecedented, ‘jamais vue’ pictures.



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