„Hungarian painters also have opportunities, all you need is luck and a patron” – Interview with Hungarian Painter Anna Bazsik
Zsófia Nagy-Vargha 2020.03.11.
She is young, beautiful, and talented. And not just at anything. Anna Bazsik is a painter. Her pictures create thousands of feelings, while we stand in front of them wondering. What is that businessman in the suit thinking about in front of a statue of Mary? Why is a priest sitting in a collapsed house? What is the man – wearing a safety vest – doing in the middle of the country road? And what kind of painting technique does the artist use so that the figures in her pictures almost shine? We can find many other similar surprises in her studio. An interview about art, inspiration, and the influence of social media.
What kind of painting are you working on right now?
At the moment I am absorbed in two topics that are interestingly interrelated: one being my pictures about nighttime light reflection, the other being my raindrop ones. These two motifs now live in parallel in me. A photographer contacted me through social media about the first topic, with whom I have a very similar mindset: in his pictures you can see men in safety vests. I immediately replied that I would very much like to paint this. We were happy about finding each other.
I often hunt for good compositions.
You mentioned that there is a connection between these images. How so?
My work topics change constantly, they build on each other, and the connection is the light.
You work on an individual topic for a relatively long time – for a while you focused on pictures with large human figures (the man in a suit painted from behind), then there were several ones with a religious theme, and now the dark pictures with the safety vests as well as the raindrops. When and why do you change your subject – once you lose interest? Or when you get other inspirations?
Generally, I have a rather impatient personality, so I change my subjects relatively often. I work in parallel on different paintings, this could be due to my impatience and, in addition, I paint pretty quickly. I am already thinking about my next picture while working on a given painting. However, light connects all topics. Famous Baroque painters inspire me, as working with light could be described as a great baroque invention.
The great artists like Rembrandt or Caravaggio have mastered how to lead the focus of the viewer with light and perhaps this is what all of my paintings also contain.
So, in terms of technique, your paintings have some Baroque inspiration?
I always strive to improve my technique and to experiment constantly. Partly because of this I started not only to depict light, but I also tried to work with it in photos, or experiment how reflection works, that is, how the reflection of the light can be painted.
You recently had a series of pictures with a religious theme. Why did you choose this topic?
I realized a long time ago that I was inspired by iconography. By projecting these works onto moving figures, I tried to bring them into the present; thus, I felt like I could bring something to life. I believe that faith is also a living thing. With these works I could express this feeling.
In this case, these are not “static” paintings, but “moving” pictures. What are these exactly?
These works were light installations, so I used a projector to cast photos onto moving objects and people.
You mentioned that you are very impatient and work quickly. What does this mean exactly?
I like when the surface stays fresh. I like when some layers remain lacquered or when certain layers are pasty and they mix.
I find this somewhat more casual technique to suit me, it works, I like it.
I just can’t force myself to dawdle with the individual surfaces for hours. It is one of the “symptoms” of my impatience.
But don’t you sometimes correct them later? After 1-2 weeks or after a month?
Yes, in 1 or 2 weeks, but never after a certain time. With fresh eyes I always notice mistakes in the picture, but later, I am already so far into another work that I don’t want to touch it anymore.
Do you have a favorite painting that you would not like to part with? Even if you were offered all the money in the world?
All the money in the world? No, I don’t have one. (Laughs.) Sure, I have favorites, especially pictures that were the firsts of a certain topic and of which I discovered a new trend that later inspired even more paintings. These are often the “starting points.” I find it difficult to give up on these pictures.
Have you made a painting that was difficult to give up on, but you did anyway?
Yes, it’s happened before. These were usually gifts. I mean they were originally made as gifts. But I don’t have any regrets, I am happy instead to be able to bring joy to someone.
With many of your pictures, it’s amazing how you grab a moment out of reality and put it in some unexpected situation, and this is what drives me to think about the picture. For example, why is a man in a safety vest standing in the middle of the dark country road? Are you often asked what you wanted to say with it?
I like to use contrast, even to tie together thoughts that would otherwise not match. I have had a fetish since childhood: when I go home on a dark street, it always generates a special feeling in me. It is something symbolic to me to walk on the dark street, which one does not know where it leads.
It is a great mystery to me. The darkness of how we get ahead in the unknown. The street is also mysterious, and I can absolutely compare it with life, with reality.
Do you like to get feedback? Do you like to be asked the question that students are asked in literature class, “What is the poet thinking about?”
Honestly, it’s usually me who’d like to ask people who hang my paintings on their walls why they like it. I’m curious because I’m certain that many would not hang such pictures on their walls.
These are not – how to put it- calming paintings, they are often not even particularly decorative, so I can totally understand that not everyone would like to look at them in their living rooms.
I have received feedback from several people that my works are horrifying. For example, because they cannot understand why a certain figure appears in the picture. And because those can be hard to interpret, people can be scared off.
But some people have a desire for it; someone even bought a picture from New York through Instagram…
He liked this style and as I was checking his profile, I think that he is generally open to contemporary art. He, for example, found me through social media.
You sometimes also get “orders.” Is it a challenge as an artist? Don’t you have to compromise in such instances?
Thank God I very rarely have to really compromise. Of course the greatest happiness and sign of recognition for me is when people find and buy my finished work. But it is also a great honor when I am approached and asked for a job. Another positive feedback is when someone is interested in my work while also wanting to make his own ideas come to life.
Does social media make life easier or more difficult for an artist in the 21st century?
In my experience, it makes it easier. I can thank social media for a large part of my sales.
I can also learn a lot from other artists whose works are easily accessible through the Internet – I can be influenced by artists I would otherwise never meet. Of course, it also has its disadvantages: there is currently a so-called overproduction in art. There are more artists than the country or the world can take. On the other hand, there are many more social issues nowadays that these artists try to address.
Is Hungary special in this regard? Is it more difficult to get in the auctions of the big auction houses? What does it actually depend on?
It depends on luck on the one hand, and management skills on the other.
For example, it is a great advantage if you can find a patron. Also, a lot depends on your relationship network.
There are many good opportunities in Hungary as well: applications and grants. But I missed preparation in these practical things from my college studies. For example, on which platforms these opportunities can be found or how to write such an application. But for a young artist, having a gallery embrace you is still a huge opportunity. Even if you have to share 50% of the sales with them, it is still a giant stepping stone for your career.
Do you have any short and long-term plans as an artist? Is planning ahead an option in this field?
So far, as a newcomer to the profession, the only thing I’m certain about is that I want to stay active, further improving my skills.
I turn to my profession with humility, and I want to learn a lot from my masters and role models. I hope that God shows me whether this is my path or not.
Your other profession is closely related to art- you teach art in a primary school close to Budapest. How does the rather strictly regulated educational system affect artistic freedom? Do you have the option to use your creativity?
I particularly like working in natural light, and I only paint when I have to under artificial lighting. Therefore, besides teaching, especially now in winter, I only have time on the weekends. However, I think that this job absolutely encourages creativity. I am lucky because I can work freely in school and I get great support. The only difficulty I can think of is that I teach in a primary school with a focus on sports, where having even 1 or 2 students interested in art per class is a rare occurrence.
That is why we mostly work on tasks where it is not the product but rather the workflow that is important, so that children who are otherwise not particularly artistic can experience the positive effects of art.
But we can work rather well in “talent development groups,” for example, in group projects. Although the students are young, between 10-14 years old, I try to introduce them to contemporary art. We often deal with social issues, for example we made posters of anti-plastic bags a few weeks ago and we will apply for the nature film competition in spring with a plastic creation made from recycled materials.
born in Kerepestarcsa - Hungary, December 4th, 1992.
2012 - 2015 Eger, Eszterházy Károly University, Faculty of Humanities, Bachelor Painter
2015 - 2018 Eger, Eszterházy Károly University, teacher of visual and environmental culture, teacher of talent development
Solo and group exhibitions:
2015 TÉR / KÉP Molino exhibition of the works of seven young painters, Gárdonyi Square and Dobó Square, Eger 33rd Spring Exhibition in Salgótarján, Dornyay Béla Múzeum, Salgótarján Semmi sem semmi (Nothing is Nothing), Kepes Művészeti Központ, Eger Semmi sem semmi (Nothing is nothing), Vitkovics Alkotóház, Eger Semmi sem semmi (Nothing is nothing), Fuga, Budapest
2016 REFIND, Arkt Művészeti Ellátó, Eger Kézjegyek (Signatures) Eger XXIII. Winter exhibition in Miskolc, Miskolci Galéria
2017 Közös meder (Shared watercourse), Eszterházy Károly University, Comenius Campus, Sárospatak Idézőjel Space Idézőjel (Komma Space Komma), B32 Galerie, Budapest
2017 Idegen (stranger), Artiszt Kultúrbár, Eger
For this to work, not only do they but also their teacher has to get creative, right?
In the talent development groups we inspire each other. Sometimes it is a student who brings up a good idea and then in an instant further reactions come up, as they spark ideas in one other. It’s great to see this.
It is often said – in every art genre – if art pervades someone, you can’t do anything else, you cannot escape it. Could you live without painting?