Abstract Expressionist ATTILA JK
By Dale King and Julia Hebert
Acclaimed Hungarian painter/sculptor Attila JK nearly died at childbirth in 1963, and came close to losing his life on two later occasions. His father was captured by invading communist troops following World War II and spent nearly five years in a stark military detention center. Still, Attila’s father “retained his cheerful nature and good heart until the end of his days.” His son shares those qualities – which he incorporates into his artwork today.
Broad-shouldered, with an amiable face and soft, curly gray hair, Attila used those potentially tragic incidents to enhance his artistic creativity. “My near-death experiences as a 7-year-old child and as a young adult guided me toward meditation,” he said during an interview at Ildiko Contemporary Fine Art Gallery in Palm Beach, Florida, where his creations are on display in a white, stucco building operated by Ildiko Varga.
“My experiences during meditation and the messages I receive guide me toward abstract expressionism. I depict as a series of freeze-frames the visual world that I experience during meditation, a series of continuously pulsating, moving, vibrating, feeling and loving ‘unknown’ emotional and spiritual states.
“I use colors as a kind of emotional energy state,” Attila said. “The ones I tend to use are blood red, sky colors, yellow orange, as well as gold and silver, to which I add a poison green, which symbolizes the power of nature.”
Early in life, the now-famous artist oriented himself toward architecture before opting for fine art in the middle 1990s. At the same time, Ildiko was settling into Palm Beach, where she opened a gallery that featured high-end Hungarian Varga crystal. Today, the couple has become part of the community’s fabric, embraced he says by Kennedys, Trumps and other philanthropists. Newspaper heiress Lois Pope and Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy are major collectors of the artist’s work.
The couple now lives near the ocean south of Palm Beach, and Attila’s studio is south of that, in Delray Beach, standing a few hundred feet from the Atlantic Ocean. He said the magnificent blue hues – from the sky to the water – fire his imagination.
In his paintings, Attila utilizes oils on canvas to surround imbedded images at the center with brilliant pigments. Gallery visitors can discover ballet dancers, their nude Prima Donna, a shark, the Garden of Eden and dreamscapes of concepts such as creation and evolution.
Gábor Pataki, an art historian, sees the influences of many iconic artists in Attila’s works. His trained gaze tracks techniques from Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Oscar Dominguez, Willem de Kooning and Zao-Wou-Ki, among others.
Though Attila did not create paintings or sculptures until he was an adult, he felt an artistic tug throughout his youth. “When I was a child, I spent every summer vacation at a village in the countryside. I learned to love animals and nature itself with the fervor of a small child. I would see how animals were born. I remember how deeply touched I was when, just a moment after the birth of a little calf, she looked at me. I was fascinated by the vivid colors of the field after rain.”
Admittedly a “protected” child, Attila was born in the midst of a pounding hailstorm on a warm summer night. He said his father was violently agitated by refusing to accept the doctors’ prognosis that “my mother’s [critical health condition] would mean that she, I, or both would die.” The decision was right, and both survived. “My father later admitted that he was never so afraid.”
Art writer Csaba Kozak paints an exacting word picture of Attila’s creative process. “He runs and drips the paint, arranging from it irregular formations [looking like] the signals of a seismograph or the pulsation of the beat. His gestures come from the depth of the heart.”
The artist takes it a step further, adding, “My inspiration comes from deep within my soul.”