Anyone paying homage to Zoltán Huszárik, wishing to interpret or touch upon his oeuvre, must remember his diversity, his talent as a visual artist and writer, which found its ultimate expression in his films. Also remembered must be his elusively changing Protean personality, which his colleague and friend, filmmaker János Tóth described thus: “It was elevating that he was never monotonous as he had such a wealth of variations inherent in him.” As a young man with diverse talent, he had to make a choice after graduating from secondary school: he would have equally been accepted to the Academy of Fine Arts as the department of film directing, where he actually enrolled. When trying to understand his career, the best starting point is his drawings, and if we want to understand his film art through his personality, his graphic art serves as the best proof for his genius. “His talent in the fine arts was manifest early on,” said painter Mihály Schéner at the 1986 Huszárik memorial exhibition in the Petőfi Literary Museum, “and I, once his teacher at the secondary school, was able to follow the unfolding of the artistic ambitions of the then sixteen-year-old sensitive and exceptionally talented young man and help him along the way.” In light of this, it was natural that the Gödöllő exhibition commemorating the first anniversary of Huszárik’s death featured his graphic art. The staff members of the Petőfi Literary Museum had to select the material from among eight hundred or so drawings, this abundance of works suggesting that drawing had been a continuous pursuit of his. And indeed, Huszárik recorded his visual ideas whenever he could find a suitable medium, a scrap of paper or a pencil stump, and whenever he got hold of fine Italian art paper, on which he drew lines with his gold Parker pen. Drawing thus became an occasional means of recreation, a game, a friendly gesture for him, but also a tool in preparing for his film projects – making costume designs and an adventure while looking for the right set – and a way of making money in hard times through book illustrations, cover designs and pieces for periodicals.
Although resembling the sitter is important, real art begins when the artist draws his own being into the line, breathing spirit into it through a curve or a bend, breaking out from the restricted dimension of a point into the two-dimensional plane, creating the illusion of space. Taking visual possession of the world thus becomes the foundation of the creative process. When asking the question of what distinguished Huszárik’s drawings, style does not come first to mind: at times he turned to Secessionism, especially in his drawings of the women he loved, who received their own likeness from him as a gift, at other times he depicted his characters with profound realism, while his studies made of the patients of Korányi Hospital saved from suicide are imbued with some irony.
When the many-faceted talent of an artist is manifest in numerous forms, it tends to indicate the impossibility of planed work and the constant presence of obstacles to the creative effort. I do not know if there was ever another artist who had to come up against so many and such solid walls as Huszárik; was it perhaps because he followed the tragic path of geniuses? He had to put up with others’ jealousy, envy, charges of being called deviant and even attempts aimed at destroying his career from his years at the academy all the way to his death, on the day after which he would have started to shoot a film forced onto him.
Huszárik’s graphic art is integral to capturing the essence of who he was. As Sándor Csoóri wrote in his obituary poem of him, drawing his last image, a brief summary of the many themes and variations of his art: “They say he was a thin, wind-blown man, / holding a black folder under his arm - /- - he suddenly started running down - - - / and his sheets scattered around the greeny slope, / drawings of women, women, denizens of a Secessionist Garden of Eden / thighs and languid arms in the rays of the lazy afternoon sun.” His films, holding eternal value, have dissolved into the collective consciousness as part of the world’s film art. His stage and radio projects might also become available in archives. Yet, it is as if his drawings, the black folder, sheets scattered around, were the only true remains of him, like the poems of a poet. And also the legends, that are his alone and through the mysteriously half-light of which others like to see him, as it is conveyed by Sándor Csoóri’s lines. He was surrounded by many legends, as if these were his real life. He also helped to make this happen, making up some of them, and allowing them to be spread around.
Legends are a thread that still ties us, his friends and acquaintances, to him; this is how Zoltán Huszárik becomes our own. His memory is clear in my mind but, like the ripples a stone creates when thrown in the water, it will one day die away, like we will pass away, and it will only be preserved in notes, making his person virtually impersonal as in Krúdy’s legendary duel with an officer. What is certain is that the mark he wanted to leave for posterity will be indelible thanks to his films.
Curator: Mihály Medve