Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lament from Hungary

Folk Music of Hungary cover 
(after a photograph by Béla Bartók)
24” x 18”, oil and pastel on canvas, 2011
Nostalgia - community - family - traditions - children - nature - home, these are some of the topics my paintings occupy lately. The same topics are present in the music I listen to (painting and music are parallel for me, always). Some of these topics had not entered my work before—children for example: I was never interested in their songs, their aesthetic, or their play, but something changed. I think it started with teaching children this summer, I had never done this before, and never thought I would like it, but I did—it gave me joy. In painting, in music, and in real life children provide an uncomplicated presence. There’s no idolatry, sexual charge, or psychological complexion—burdens I feel no use for, in these paintings anymore.

It has recently been discovered that some of the iconic ancient cave paintings have been done by small children. In the recently discovered Rouffignac  caves in the Dordogne, the most prolific artist was a five year old girl. Learning about this fact had an enormous impact on my worldview and my attitude of how I view my position within the world of art.

The LP Hungarian Folk Music contains a really nice children’s song but the first track from this magnificent record to be included in the Top 100 is sung by an older woman. Jaj, Jaj énnekem bánatos anyának! is a lament from the north of Hungary, a true example of the world-wide practice of cry-singing I have been collecting for many years. There hasn’t been a top 100 in the 2000s without an example of such mode of singing.
The group of Hungarian women and girls was photographed by Béla Bartók and used for the cover of Folk Music of Hungary with recordings made by Bartók. Hungarian Folk Music (not to be confused with Bartók's) is an introduction to a series of records that was to be started in 1965 by the Folk Music Research Group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. I don’t know if the series ever materialized.

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