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Colourful Memories and Haunted Portraits: An interview with Gagyi Botond

InterviewsErika Belavy

This week we take you on a dream-like voyage to Transylvania with Gagyi Botond. Even though he's fresh out of art school, Gagyi's mastery of oil paints and the haunting nature of his portraits demonstrates a maturity beyond his years. With their blurred, ghostlike features, the characters in his work are a contrast of memories and perception, as they wander through the canvas. His paintings invite you on a journey through his dreams in a search for greater meaning. It was love at first sight for us, so we have the great pleasure to feature his work this week!

How did you decide to become an artist?

I don't think there was a decision, or a question or a doubt for me. It would be too general to say that ''it just happened or caught me''. I would say the beginning of my desire to become an artist came at a young age, through the first impressions, possibilities, details, colours and technical solutions of the old brilliant masters. They really impressed me and motivated me to take a chance. After a while, this chance transformed itself into a profession and lives on as continued motivation.

What is your process, when starting a new painting?

The process of starting a new painting is different from one canvas to another. Lately I've been searching for some interesting images, photos with special places and natural elements which represent my memories. I try to do some personal compositions. I generally don’t know what the next idea or composition will be, and I am not really keen to find out. I like to focus on the present and what I am doing now. The result is a mixtum compositum in which the real compositional elements are surmounted by the meta-real. The process reflects my primary interest in colour, transparency, materiality, contrast, composition, figurative, abstract, texture and gesture. 

What inspires you? 

I tend to walk everywhere. I like to observe what is happening with nature, in a town or in the countryside, with the vegetation around a lake or a river. There are many things that inspire me: memories, unexpected situations, the sky, lenticular clouds, reflexes, motions. These sometimes enter my paintings or become the starting point. The main idea of my paintings could be considered as a synthesis between memory and perception, becoming visible through updated mnemonic images.

What do you hope to accomplish with your work?

The concept of my recent works is to clarify my memories through images. In reveries we can find more meaning, ideas and inspiration than in reality. Because of this the characters all have a similar expression; they are wandering in the composition, searching for something. I consider the painting process of my works as a refreshing mechanism of the memories

Which superpower would you have and why?

I would want to have the power to memorize every word, colour and detail. To live this way, everything would be more inspirational!

Shop Gagyi's paintings here.

Born in 1992, Gagyi Botond is a painter living and working in Cluj-Napoca (Transylvania), Romania. He has recently graduated with his B.A. in Painting from the city's University of Art and Design. With a fascination for strange human situations, feelings, childhood memories, and the human body, Gagyi's paintings are filled with unusual expressions, gestures and tension. His use of muted colours, combined with a sensuous handling of oil paint demonstrates a maturity beyond his years and draws the viewer in to his aching portraits. To him, painting provides a little shelter.