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Leslie Szabo: Journey
I was born on the 2nd of October, 1946, in Békásmegyer, which at that time was no more than a little, old village near Pest. My parents lived in difficult circumstances. However, they always tried to cope with it as well as they possibly could, bringing up their three children to have a better life, and a better future ahead of them, for which I greatly respect them. They accomplished this well, since all three of us, and my mother got a university degree. I have had a special relationship with my mother ever since, but unfortunately my father died in 1985.

I do not remember the first time I started to draw, paint and construct, but I am sure that it was always more than a hobby for me. The world of constructing, of creating something gripped me as firmly as if it were some addictive illness, which one can’t, and which I didn’t even want to resist. I was always a little, fragile boy with glasses like coke bottle bottoms. While the other boys fought and played football, I drew all the time, and sometimes defended the weaker ones, as I had been told to so often by my mother.

I have been interested in art and the history of art since upper school, and due to the influence of my school teachers (Irén Papp, Lóránt Sárkány and József Dombi) I started to self-educate myself. Later on, I went to study groups (teachers: János Somogyi and Tamás Ervin) and listened to lectures of the “Tudományos Ismeretterjesztő Társulat’s” university for years. The art-camps in Tokaj organised by the “Folk Art Institute” helped a lot, as well as my fellow graduates: László Bandy, István Steiner (along with other members of the A.K.T. Studio), and my friends in Szentendre: The “Vajda Lajos Studio”, and István Zámbó.
My first real love happened in 1968, at the age of 22, and I married immediately, which marriage – although it came so suddenly – lasted 35 years, until the death of my wife. We had children as well: Leslie in 1968, Linda in 1973 and Laura in 1976.
Suddenly I realised that I had to grow up. Both I and my wife were very inexperienced when we married, but a family of three children had to be managed and kept up. Being a full-time student or going to the College of Fine Arts as a graduate was out of question. I had to work, much more than before. In that time I was a car-washer, sign-painter, decorator, airport-cleaner, worked in a kiosk, was an army painter, a freelance artist and a college teacher.
I took anything that paid, and which wasn’t beneath me, because I did have principles. In the meantime, I created in every possible and impossible way – for which I thank my wife, who always had so much patience, faith and love towards me – sometimes to order, sometimes not. Although in principle I consider myself to be a graphic artist, I painted, made statues, and drew wild pop-art works, organised creative camps and happenings. In one word, I could not control my energies, as to some extent I still cannot.

I created drawings, newspaper-graphics, illustrations, bookplates (ex-libris), posters, book and record covers, paintings, sculptures, statues, objects – with almost every technique and material.

I never cared what the current art-fashion was, what the art historians said or what the political culture expected; I didn’t have any professional patrons, didn’t belong to any “school” or art circles, but tried – and still try – to achieve my ideas free from others, keeping myself forever independent.

In 1974, on the basis of my works – as at that time I still did not have a degree – I was accepted as a member of the Young Artists Studio, and in 1975 to the Arts Fund (now: National Association of Hungarian Artists), of which I am still a member.

In the seventies and eighties I was active in graphic artistic education (I organised and led study groups and art-camps), I was a contributor to the Institute of Culture and the Institute of Educational Research, and I published many professional articles. In the meantime I was awarded a degree –in geography – at the Juhász Gyula Teachers Training College.

In the nineties the changes in the political culture made life for freelance artists much more difficult, so I had to look for a job with a fixed salary: I became a teacher of drawing and graphic art, and history of art, history of furniture making, and colour-precept at tertiary level. Meanwhile I continued my artistic work and was involved in individual and group exhibitions, both in Hungary and abroad.

Although my artistic career, materials, and styles are very adventurous, with truly outstanding, successful eras – in the seventies, János Fajó said that my constructive works are the most promising initiative of the time, but I felt that I had to move on, and so that is what I did. My engravings were picked for the International Ex-libris Congress, and other biennials, to represent Hungarian graphic art. Tibor Vilt said that no one who saw my 4 meter high wooden statue in Nagyatád would ever say that I’m not a sculptor. My oil painting was exhibited in the College of Art in London. However, I am truly comfortable in my own style, which is named pentillism, as an analogy of pointillism.

Pentillism is an inter genre style and method, a graphic technique who’s texture achieves a scenic effect equal to a painting. The technique: as pointillists paint with thousands of small paint spots, I accomplish this with thousands of ecoline lines. The difference is not just that I use lines instead of spots, and ink instead of paint, but also that I use a dipping pen instead of a paintbrush. This is indeed a great difference! Whilst the paint is easily “manipulated” with a paintbrush, the pentillist effect is only achieved by dense and even denser lines, with the direction of the lines and the stacking of the lines on each other realizes an extremely deep effect which only this very time-consuming technique can accomplish. Just as time is very important in human relationships, thus in art as well, which is a communication, a message for the “consumer” of the art.

In the autumn of 2003 I met my current partner, who not only gave a new élan, inspiration, and motivation to my work, but is also an excellent partner in artistic creation, in organising exhibitions, and in managing my life and my life’s work. Currently we are working on a webpage which is a virtual museum, picture and art gallery and an auction house.

Szabó -M. László 
1st of October, 2009. (On the basis of earlier writings)