'EAST meets WESTport' translates artist's vision
Updated 6:32 am, Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Nemes, from Budapest, is the first artist chosen to participate in "EAST meets WESTport," a six-week art residency program coordinated by the local arts center and Quinnipiac University.
Project developer Christopher Ball, director of the university's Central European Institute and a frequent visitor to Hungary, said Nemes was chosen by a panel of judges several months ago from among three candidates. Ball said he plans to develop the artist residency into an annual program.
Nemes, who speaks English, arrived in Connecticut about a week ago.
At age 28, Nemes said in a recent email from Budapest, where he has "a nice studio and a small flat," that he is overjoyed with the opportunity to visit Connecticut and New York on his first trip to the United States.
"I hope I'm not too old to do something" of value as an artist, he said. "I hope I can learn to lose my fears; to be more open, healthy, self confident, and forget the `Horror Vacui' (the fear of being unable to fill an empty space).
"These skills are indispensable if you want to be a potent artist."
"It's a very nice project that speaks to our mission," said Ball, "to build bridges between the United States and the nations of Central Europe" by fostering relationships in academics, business and culture.
The "EAST meets WESTport" residency program was founded "to provide artists an opportunity to find new inspiration, to introduce visiting artists to New York and Connecticut's art communities and its many supporters, and to infuse Connecticut with artistic inspiration from around the world," said Leslie LaSala, a spokeswoman for the Westport Arts Center in an email. "This is a program that truly spans across Connecticut -- and the globe."
Arts Center Artistic Director Helen Klisser During said the center was eager to join the program because it is a good fit with their goals.
"We're hyper-local and we're global," During said of the area arts community. "We want to engage local artists and patrons, while looking out into the bigger world."
While in Connecticut, Nemes will have an apartment and studio in downtown Bridgeport, thanks to local arts patron and developer Phil Kuchma. Nemes will not be paid while here, but will receive a stipend for food and paint supplies so that he can continue to create on U.S. soil.
In an email interview before arriving in the United States, Nemes said: "For a lot of reasons, I'm excited. This is the first time for me in America, and also almost the first potential time for the young Hungarian painting generation to get into discussion with the art scene in the U.S. in person. I can't wait!
"Hungarian contemporary art is not really known, or visible in U.S.," he added. "There are a lot of differences in the way we mainly practice and think about art. We do it like a one-person jungle fight: Everyone is breaking forward alone. We have no professional model at home, so we try to understand it from the web, or magazines or at ArtCologne (an international art festival in Germany).
"My goal is to translate my ideas into real words, exchange thoughts, understand" and to paint.
Nemes said he studied at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts and in Leipzig, Germany.
As a full time artist, painting consumes his waking hours, he said.
"Work begins when I open my eyes, and finishes when I close them. It's really hard to force myself" to take a day off. But, he said, he's aware that "some rest can be also very powerful."
While in Connecticut, Nemes may do more talking than painting as his American hosts are planning numerous trips around the state and to Manhattan, where he will be able to meet American artists and tour some of the world's most impressive museums and galleries.
And for those he meets along the way, Nemes said he will describe his style thus:
"My paintings (are) rather organic ... self-reflective. The paint depicts itself."
He said he starts with "quasi-realistic architectural" forms. Then he "slowly zoomed into the view until I reached the material. From this aspect, you can say it is some kind of abstraction. But my forms and layers come from real-life situations, which are still visible" in the works. So I would say it's somewhere in between.
"I like to consider it organic abstraction ... pure painting."
Nemes introduction to the community will take place at a free reception Friday, from 6 to 8 p.m., the same time the Westport Arts Center opens its Solos 2015 exhibition, which showcases new works by local artist-members and will include three of Nemes' works. Westport Arts Center, 51 Riverside Ave., through Saturday, June 27. 203-222-7070. www.westportartscenter.org.