Paradise Lost and Found

Olga VĂ¡llay Szokolay

Paradise Lost and Found

Adam and Eve out of Paradise, Stairway to Heaven?, from China to Hungary - Home

From September 6 to October 7, 2018, the Exhibition area of the Pequot Library in Southport, Connecticut featured a collection of photographs titled “Paradise (Lost)” by Árpád Krizsán, Best in Show winner of the Library’s 2017 Art Show. 

The opening reception was jam-packed, despite the adversity of inclement weather. Parking was quite a challenge in the pouring rain.

Prior to this exhibit, Krizsán participated in several others over the years in various locations, being awarded numerous prizes.  His first one-man-show, however, was in Connecticut, at the Westport Library in 2015.  He has been a resident of that town since 2004.

The artist is an amateur photographer.  The material for some of his pictures was taken with an I-phone camera!

To make a living, he is Managing Director and co-founder of Enterprise Research Group, LLC, a financial consultant firm in Westport, CT, after having served in various positions with other financial companies in the United States and in London, England.  He holds a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Árpad Krizsán was born December 4, 1964, in Stockholm, Sweden of Hungarian parents who had left their homeland in 1956.  In 1974, the family moved to Graz, Austria, where Árpád attended schools and spent most of his childhood and formative years.  Of that city he writes:

“…the façade was mostly impenetrable – everything picturesque and displayed in petit bourgeois perfection.  Yet, while the beauty was true, there were hidden secrets creating a stifling environment of rigidity regarding cultural norms… Somehow Graz managed to emerge as a center for avant-garde art, attracting artists from around the world to participate in the Steirische Herbst (autumn) festival, providing a glimpse into an unknown and unpolished world beyond the picture-perfect façade.”

(Wow, it seems we even have a poet lurking here…)

This revelation prompted him to escape.  He explored the numerous art and photo books they had at home, featuring masters such as Brassai, Kertész, Capa, and Munkácsi.

During one of their trips, his father gave him his first camera, instructing him to look.  The camera and works of those incredible artists opened his eyes to a new world and provided him with the ability to uncover the realities behind and beyond façades.

While studying in Vienna, in the late 80s, he earned his living as a photojournalist, documenting the crumbling of another, very real façade erected by the Communist regimes all over Central and Eastern Europe. Krizsán traveled “from one revolution to another”.  Later, he continued by traveling and ultimately settling in a new world.

Those events shaped his style of photography.  He recognized “the chance to capture the moment, the unstaged reactions and expressions.”  He strives “to look beyond undisturbed beauty, to see what is lurking just around the corner or behind closed doors.”  Krizsán’s passion for photography goes past the superficial.  His work is driven by “an attempt to scratch the surface, to look at the other side or what others wouldn’t see; yet finding beauty in all of it.”

Árpád Krizsán opened his exhibit with a quote from Milton’s Paradise Lost:

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

He chose the title of the exhibit to reflect his enchantment with the duality of this world: from Adam and Eve’s story of being expelled from Paradise and Satan’s fight against the Heavens, to man’s critical thinking in search of the truth and his desire to create the best possible world, albeit flawed but willing and be able to improve it. Black and White, Heaven and Hell on Earth, indeed.

Krizsán never lived in Hungary but claims to be Hungarian; that for him is a state of mind, not a nationality.  It influenced him in every possible way and how he views the world.  His parents deserve full credit for Árpád’s remarkable command of the language.

The exhibit certainly was an enjoyable eye-opener, making us wait for the next one with anticipation.

Olga Vállay Szokolay is an architect and Professor Emerita of Norwalk Community College, CT after three decades of teaching.  She is a member of the Editorial Board of Magyar News Online.