There are several
distinct threads that have developed in George Baloghy's paintings over the
years. One has been the appropriation of other artists' work for his own ends.
In this series he has placed Picasso's figures in recognisably Auckland
landscapes. Baloghy is European by birth, and his outlook has always been influenced by his relationship with the northern hemisphere.
A European transported to the new southern world, a familiar refrain for much of the
development of New Zealand. Picasso in Auckland is likewise a
plumbing of the Great European Art tradition of the twentieth century placed
squarely into an antipodean setting. There is an emergent Maori art and
Pacifica cultural experience in this country, but this exhibition reaffirms the
connection with the great western tradition.
Appropriation is common in art, and
even in Sleeping Peasants at Bastion Point the figures are not original
to Picasso, but appropriated from a nineteenth century French pastoral painter,
who appropriated it from Breughel of the 16th century. Thus the painting is an
appropriation of an appropriation, the point being that some images are
beautiful or powerful enough to want to be recycled endlessly, much the same as
some movie stories are re-made over and over, each time for a fresh audience.
Baloghy has a deep admiration for
Picasso, widely regarded as the man who defined twentieth century art. This
exhibition is homage, discovery, the re-living of the fantasy visual world of
Picasso in the streets of Auckland, up close and personal.
work can be seen at a number of levels depending on what one knows about art
history and the local Auckland landscape. The tension is inherent in the
contrasts between the primitivist and cubist figures and the realist landscapes they
Baloghy interweaves an array of
playful and inventive binary opposites into each painting; the intellectual
with the absurd, the surreal with the beautiful. They are simple, yet also
exceedingly complex, like puzzles. Overlaid on all this is the artist's own
aesthetic, his own idea of finding beauty in exotic juxtapositions, finding the
universally heroic in a local context.