Ilona Székely

Paint; cleans. This is the name of the small gallery on Várfok Street. A stand-alone showroom that was once a laundry and cleaning salon. The ancient laundry still advertises itself on the wall of the house, but here I also first met the paintings of Zsófia Vári.

Emotions dripping in color, trembling yellows, swirling reds, falling blues, and greens cover the portraits. The figures cling naked together or just reach into nothingness, hesitantly touching each other. The blurred faces behind the couples, the pain hanging upside down, the jealousy roaring, the passion unconscious.

“He rushes upside down, / he has no stone, he has no bread, / the northern wild glows, / the water flows under it. / His soul is a dark power, / he drives it towards his mate. ”
One of the color-rich paintings was made by Zsófi Vári for László G.’s book Flying Carpet, and this poem had a special effect on her.

“I still know István from Toldy grammar school, the Hungarian faculty he held was a fantastic experience. Similar energies work in us, I’m glad you asked for the illustration. I would have painted this picture anyway, I’ve been carrying it on myself for a while. ”

In the middle of the room there is a semi-finished painting, on the floor newsprint, sticky stains, brushes, tubes. The artist tells vividly about her pictures, it turns out that she repaints her works several times, it happens that the characters are completely changed in one night.

“I always bring someone out of reality into my pictorial world: my friends, my loves, or just the unknown man who got lost in the gallery yesterday. My obsession is to paint some tree giant with roots and branches, and then my figures break out of me and I go over to figurative representation. So this picture already had my dad, mom, and I painted myself in it. Then I reworked it all. Now I have a student on it, whom I teach Italian, this head is Martin, who is there for my girlfriend Nóra, and he is a college boy, about whom we should not even write anything, because he still knows her. The characters in my images aren’t always positive personalities, some of them who stole all my money or tormented me in other ways, but still they are the ones who move a lot inside. ”

Zsófi Vári’s restless ducks, her powerful contours evoke the art of Egon Schiele and Kokoschka, only in a slightly gentler version. Her favorites are the Expressionists, but Renaissance and Mannerism are also close to her. As she shows her oil paintings, ink drawings, she is overflowing with enthusiasm for Caravaggio, not even taking a breath as she speaks. The artist is twenty-nine years old, her locks of hair glow purple, and are incredibly thin, like a toy baby. She has been happy to wear her dead grandmother’s cardigan for years, clinging to her memory. Her friends often ask: where does the trendy garment come from, and then they marvel at its origins. The grandmother herself was well drawn herself, made for a dress designer, but her vision deteriorated and she became a postman. Zsófi never forgets how her grandmother sketched her knitting plans for her, fearfully guarding the yellowing papers,as well as his father’s black and white analog photos.

Her mother is a Hungarian-English teacher and her father is an engineer. As a child, the gates were always opened to her: she went to lots of special classes, sang, played music, and made athletic. Already as an elementary school student, she pasteled oil pastels, won drawing competitions, but recited talently, she also achieved success on the podium. As a teenager, she attends performances by the Soldier and the Chalk Circle, and will play a theatrical circle in Toldy. She plays the ferocious Pinocchio and then the Beautiful Helena. In the end, she decides to apply not as an actress but as a painter.

“Even though I went to prepare for the University of Fine Arts, I wasn’t admitted to painting for the second time. In high school, on the other hand, I had a brilliant Italian teacher, so I easily got into the winners of OKTV. I continued my studies at the Italian department of Eötvös Loránd University, but I could never give up on becoming an artist. Earlier, my parents paid for Toldy’s art history trips, we toured Naples, Milan, Sicily. So I once wandered into the belfry and botanical garden of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan. The institution was founded by Maria Theresa, I was impressed by the atmosphere of the place. When I went years later, I went in and asked, “How do I enroll here?”

Zsófi packed up her portfolio, recorded for weeks, and later that year became a student of painting at the Milan Academy. To cover her study expenses, she also undertook waiter work, living in a cheap apartment in the suburbs. She was lonely, but she stuck to her plan. After the art courses, she wore his cocktails in a row, and guests could even have dinner for eight euros. Then she met Cosimo Valsecchi, who is practicing capoeira and even act as an abstract painter. Cosimo became Zsófi’s first Italian friend and co-creator.

“Anyone who moves abroad for an extended period of time will inevitably get to know the insane loneliness, but I have never been as free as I was in Milan. I knew I could come home anytime, and eventually that period made me stronger, I became a better humanist. ”

Years later, Zsófi also studied in Paris and wrote his Italian dissertation on the painter Valerio Adami, who lives in the French capital.

“I shivered when I entered the eighty-year-old master. I didn’t even hope to make friends with one of the greatest living Italian painters for my beginner’s existence. Valerio Adami was a disciple of Kokoschka otherwise, but now works in mythological pop art. And I liked the fact that he liked my work as a sign of a lifetime. ”

France is an expensive place, in addition to studying, Zsófi also worked here, as a waiter and cleaner. In the summer, her acquaintances recommended her to the Côte d’Azur, a Greco-Latin teacher looking for a nurse. The elderly lady had multiple sclerosis with neither her arms nor her legs moving. Zsófi lifted her for months, helped the sick woman and meanwhile they talked and looked at albums.

“Interestingly, despite the illness, the lady went swimming with some assistance every day. Here I thought a lot about the passing and deeply felt that somewhere everyone was fighting with their bodies. Many people did not understand why I undertook such a thing, but it was a shocking experience, a picture was born of it. ”

Then she was stolen at a dawn in Paris. It was September the eighth, her birthday, plus super moon, the full moon is closest to Earth at this time. And all her money she earned from nursing work was gone. She could do nothing but expose her drawings to the ground at the Pompidou and begin to paint among the beggars. Eventually, a street artist named Popeye rescued her from the cashlessness. She bought one of his pictures, from which she could then travel to her sister.

Zsófi Vári has been composing at home for some time, she has exhibited in the halls of Brody Studios, in the Small Factory on Klauzál Square, she has set scenes and paintings for various films. Many people like her pictures on Facebook, but Tamás Kieselbach, Béla Pintér and American actor Billy Zane have also noticed her works. The film star (Twin Peaks, Titanic) flew from London to Budapest to be present at the opening of Zsófi’s exhibition. The young artist’s first major success was that she won a competition for her scenic scenery at an Italian theater festival (Vogliamo vivere! Punto di fusione), and she saw the stage photos of her painting The Quartet on a giant projector during Heriner Müller’s Quartet. The event and her pictures were also reported by the Corriere della Sera. In Sardinia, a thousand-colored work (murales) was painted on the wall.

In addition to her artistic work, she gives Italian language lessons and happens to stand behind the counter. It is incomprehensible at the sight of Hungarian conditions why patronage does not work in Hungary at all and how socially sensitive people lack social sensitivity. She says: the higher someone gets, the more they should help. She went to the Don’t Give Up cafe, offered a painting at the Transplant Foundation’s auction, and also tried to help refugees in the Eastern Underpass. (As part of the Oriental Passage Project, she participated in an eye-catching visual action with Billy Zane to protect the dignity of fleeing people.) Her friend Zsolt Farkas, a boy in a wheelchair, regularly appears at her exhibitions.

It’s getting dark, it’s time to close. Zsófi is still showing you the picture that you might never sell. And this is the Desert – a couple in love with lavish colored contours – that everyone likes.


The exhibition Párkésés by the painter Zsófia Vári has opened in the Várfok utca Fest; The artist moved into the gallery for a few days, and was also praised by a Hollywood star at the friendly opening. Vári sees a lack of patronage in Hungarian art and hopes that drawing attention to social problems through art will reach wide strata.

Várfok Street, where several galleries operate, is alive and well in the cultural life of the capital. In the second half of last week, dozens of people crowded the Várfok Gallery at the opening of the new exhibition of the artist Tamás Jovanovics, but opposite the prestigious exhibition space, on the other side of the street, a smaller crowd also clashed. They came to see the exhibition of the painter Zsófia Vári for the first time: family members, friends, former classmates and students, colleagues and interested people waited for Anna Juhász, a writer and cultural manager, to solemnly open the Párkeresés exhibition to the public.

After the exhibition, Zsófia Vári and her dear acquaintance, American actor Billy Zane, also ran a few minutes behind the start of the theater, the visitors took the small gallery. There was once a laundry and cleaning salon on the site of the Fest; Due to its late function, the exhibition space is quite cramped, but the tense posture allows the recipients to form at least a really close connection.

The paintings presented at the new exhibition of the cultural venue, which opened in April, are basically dominated by emotions: the works of Zsófia Vári reveal a special emotional content. Her insanely vivid images basically present us with figural figures, but most of the time it is still difficult to describe the scene in which they move because the subjects are actually schematic figures. Perhaps the main feature of colorful paintings is the display of sensitivity on canvas with colors and sharp, dynamic movements. These works have souls, we see and feel them. We would love to feel her castle figures, try to give strength to her fallen figures with a few words of encouragement, and we would be as passionate as her lovers.

The uniqueness of the creative process can be paralleled with the warmth and openness radiated by the colors, as Zsófia Vári moved into the gallery for a week and a half before the opening of the exhibition. Walking in Várfok Street, standing in front of the glass of the shop window, they could get an insight into how the works created with a method combining drawing and painting techniques are made in a special way, in what clothes and in what mental condition the colorful artist works. By the way, most of the exhibited images reflect the result of the interaction of tempera, ink and ecoline with acrylic, although the painter does not shy away from natural materials either. As she said, strange, original colors can be achieved with plant materials – she has already painted herself with coffee.

Not only are the works on display special (there are some that could not be completed due to lack of time), the opening of the exhibition was also very special. On the side of the beautiful Anna Juhász, she talked to her partner, Attila Csáky, the co-owner of the gallery and the exhibiting artist, Zsófia Vári, about sharing the works of an artist whose personality is at least as interesting as her gradually expanding oeuvre. The microphone was soon transferred to Vári’s friends, who, entering the illuminated center of the room, told me what memories they had of the creator, how they saw her world. Among the speaking fellow artists, the real surprise was an american character actor Billy Zane.

The Twin Peaks series by David Lynch and the classic actor Titanic – who often grabs brushes in his spare time – flew from London to the Hungarian capital just to be there at the opening of Vári’s exhibition. He called the works of the twenty-nine-year-old painter “great” and said he feels that the Vári paintings faithfully represent contemporary Hungarian advanced art. In his greeting, the fifty-year-old artist mentioned that he considered Zsófia Vári to be a truly diverse, valuable and emotional person, a world-class artist. He said they were introduced to each other in Budapest last summer, and in the focus of the refugee crisis, they visited the Eastern Railway Station together with the migrants camping there, to whom they brought food and essentials as donations.

After the opening of the exhibition, which was accompanied by live blues music and fine wines in the late evening, Zsófia Vári told our newspaper that it was a real holiday for her that almost a hundred people were crowded in at the Fest, Clean Gallery to get acquainted with her new works. One of the works on display in the exhibition reflects the poem of the poet László István Géher. The painter shared with Népszava that she had met Géher for twelve years: the József Attila Prize-winning poet held her Hungarian faculty before graduating from Toldy High School. “It’s good to see that there are geniuses living among us who deepen their work together, who inspire their environment. István László G. – whose volumes I illustrate and who are influenced by my pictures – is such a person.

I getting to know him as a teacher measurable to the passionate teaching figure of the Society of Dead Poets, teaching at a university level with humility and great enthusiasm, ”she said of Géher. She added, as well as the joy that an American movie star sees fantasy in her. She stressed they also share a worldview with Billy Zane. “Artistic figures like Angelina Jolie are my role models, I believe in them! Art is the only medium that reaches everyone, so it has real power. I make no secret, I want to be as big as possible on the social line, albeit cautiously, because they are frustrated by the sharp differences between the social classes, the poverty in the subway train, the hopeless situation of the large number of deprived people, ”said Vári. from one of his works. Although his pictures,unlike the works of Nóra Soós, they do not carry a striking social character, she would like to be able to draw attention to the burning inconveniences of our time through her non-transparent paintings.

“I was also happy to be able to move into the gallery and work not in isolation from the world but in the foreground because everything is so invisible! I confess that art must be given a function, mere aesthetic value is not enough. The institution of patronage is missing from the Hungarian art life, and this should be changed as well, ”he stated. “I am horrified to see that multimillionaires are incapable of showing empathy for others, even though it would be their job to support the common good, the poor, the artists from their accumulated wealth. Although there are foundations, there is often no actual assistance. If a big contractor comes up, why do I have to face being stolen. Why isn’t the news about it given? ” Asked the artist, a graduate of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan.

Zsófia Vári also spoke about Népszava’s interest, the current exhibition also proves that people inspire each other in a thousand ways. The thin, cheerful artist recently met Béla Pintér, a key figure in Hungarian alternative theater. Their meeting is just evidence of the interaction he mentioned. “I’m happy to be your contemporary!” – wrote to her in greeting Béla Pintér, who has since been a lover of Vári’s works with “brutal energy, suggestive depiction of the soul”.


They return with Quartets protagonists of Dangerous Liaisons, this time at the end of the game. For the review We want to live! Melting point – an original mix of different arts and multidisciplinarity at the Pergolesi Area in Milan – the spotlight is turned on a grotesque mise en space tinged with caustic irony.

A bare scene, an unmade bed, a few scattered chairs, a table with a bottle of wine and two glasses. A diffused, cold, impersonal light. A man and a woman, former lovers, former libertines and now decrepit walkers, recite a past of unscrupulous carnal conquests.

Their perverse skirmish begins. Despair over imminent death makes them hungry, determined to consume to the last drop the poor remains of a vitality dragged against all evidence.A tape recorder confuses the voices of a certainly better past, and they are moments of dismay and of nostalgia thrown back in the throat. With white faces like death masks and almost mummified bodies, the two aristocrats pursue each other, beyond all expectations, with an eroticism that is now only verbal. An excess of vitality to say the least grotesque: she is reduced to a half-length, erect on a bed from the waist up. But the two, determined not to surrender to the more than evident and horrible decline, continue the show at the cost of barely held back. A tragicomedy in which the extraordinarily versatile actors skilfully slide from one gender to another: she becomes masculine and assumes the unscrupulous coldness of the seducer while he becomes the tender voluptuous flesh of a girl. The collaboration with the Hungarian painter Zsofia Vari was also successful, amplifying the tensions of the piece with a painting that acts as a dynamic background for the action.

An ambitious show, that of the Emergency Theater Company in the context of the Vogliamo Vivere! Festival, promoted by the PianoinBilico Association. The challenge is the eighteenth-century one of Laclos and Sade, in an era that wants to demonstrate the superiority of reason over sentiment. But Muller, not surprisingly called “the greatest poet of living theater” by Samuel Beckett, goes further: he does not allow his characters to be overcome by sentiment and leaves them much more tragically in the absolute existential void. Frustrated by the mortality inflicted by a God against whom it is necessary to take revenge, they make life their personal show, their work of art.

The text knows no pity: the gaze is lucid, the eye always open. However, without the meticulous interpretation of the two actors it could easily be claustrophobic; it is an extraordinary mimicry that masterfully returns the intellectual combat and the emotional subtext. Effective gestural tics found by Federica Bognetti, who now stubbornly plays a decrepit lock, now indulges in compulsive embraces, while Valmont, played by Andrea Tibaldi, with a sepulchral voice manages the unsuspected erections of a declining body.

In this crazy excess of lucidity, the only possible end is collapse: in the very moment in which the war ends and the marquise poisons Valmont, in a flash of humanity that runs out in a few moments, there is almost the feeling that death is a last act of love. The final passing goes beyond defeat and is, perhaps, decisive. And it is in this liberating death that his body becomes sensual, the hottest, most dramatic lights, finally human. The rest is dark, greetings and applause.