The palette called India
A Hungarian artist, who made Mumbai her home for four years, gives the city a parting gift of paintings inspired by India
When Ildikó Morovszki Halász ‘Morildi’ arrived in India in 2015, little did the Hungarian artist know that the vibrant colours of the country would lead her to embark on a new journey in her career. A graphic designer by training, she decided to pick up the paintbrush for the first time; an urge she attributes to what her “fellow Hungarian-born woman artist Amrita Sher-Gil must have felt, living here”. Four years on, and several exhibitions later, as Halász prepares to return to Budapest in June, she is showcasing her works in a solo show, India, My Love, at the venue where it all began.
When not travelling with her husband, Andras Halász, commercial and cultural counsellor at the Consulate General of Hungary, the couple stay at a BKC hotel of a French luxury chain, where she held her first exhibition. “My first impression of India will always be its myriad colours,” shares Halász, and in her bid to translate them to the canvas, she travelled to Rajasthan, the Himalayan foothills and the holy cities of Varanasi, Madurai, Haridwar and Rishikesh. “One of my first trips in India with my family was to Rajasthan, where I was astonished to come across rugged features, and colourful yet craggy faces. These faces inspired me to start to paint portraits. So we can say that the birthplace of my portraits was Rajasthan,” she writes in a note on the show.
Water Carriers series
But before she took the plunge into painting, she decided to turn to Sher-Gil once again. “I made aquarelle studies on her most famous Indian oil paintings, with the goal to create a déjà vu feeling, expressing the original atmosphere of her paintings but with a different technique,” Halász explains. Seventy-five of these works, most of them done in acrylic, feature in the ongoing exhibition, sub-categorised under various styles.
The artworks in the Bindi pointillism series, for example, draw from the neo-impressionist technique of painting that makes use of tiny dots, and blend it with the artist’s understanding of the bindu in Hindu spiritualism. Another intriguing series is one titled Naked Reality, where subjects seem to emerge from the backdrop. “The idea is to make the poor visible. Those who are vulnerable cannot be rendered invisible,” she says, adding that at the same time, it is also her way of saying that one can still emerge victorious from this nothing-ness.
Ildikó Morovszki Halász
Her time in the city finds its way into the Promenade series, inspired by Mumbaikars’ love for the seafront. The silhouettes that feature in the paintings, however, don’t just depict people against the setting sun. “On several such promenades in Mumbai, especially on Carter Road in Bandra, one can see plaques on benches dedicated to deceased family members. In the crepuscular gloom of the sunset, one could think that at this time the shadows of those long gone can be seen as well,” she shares.
Through these paintings, as Halász carries back a slice of India with her, she tells us that the couple plans to exhibit them in Hungary, too. “We want to show our people India through our eyes,” they say in unison.
Till: May 15
At: Lobby Level Art Gallery, Sofitel Mumbai, BKC.
A walk through Mohammed Ali Road's Khau Galli