Interview with Imre Égerházi, by Tünde Nagy, Kiskegyed, 1998

Women and the canvas

“It has happened countless times that when I saw a beautiful woman, it was not the instinct of possession that awoke in me, but, as in the case of a landscape or object, I wanted to paint her,” says the painter Imre Égerházi. Most men feels unrelenting passion towards women throughout their lives. This artist may be glowing at a higher than average temperature. To illuminate the aesthetic side of the “phenomenon,” we visited the renowned creator.

Q: Do women who consider themselves worthy of a portrait often offer to stand model

A: Rather, it is only those who are motivated not by the desire for immortality but by the fee for modeling. Sometimes the most beautiful women of the local brown-skinned population knock on the windows of my creative house every day. Sometimes a girl comes with an unbuttoned blouse: “Who has such nice breasts in Hadház?” I said it’s really nice, but I don’t know all woman and altogether don’t need your help. And after this she is the one who is offended! At other times, an older, chubby woman tries to convince me that her nude would provide an unparalleled experience to the world. Well, at most as a torso… Sometimes mothers bring their kids to model and say they also could do it because modeling doesn’t require any knowledge at all. They cut their own prices continually, and in the end they would be willing to come for a few hundred forints for a whole month. Others won’t bargain, but let me tell you, after the painting, sex is also on the table. Unfortunately, many times they frustrate me for weeks.

Q: What about professional models?

A: It’s a very tiring job, it’s not an easy thing to be motionless for hours. After each session, the whole body of the model hurts all over. Those who understand their profession can help the painter a lot, they also understand what the artist wants. And if not, well, it’s not an awkward task to position a naked woman. Usually ladies apply as models, maybe they have more healthy vanity. The professional rankings are very much counted, they even unsolicitedly cite all the famous artists who hired them. And they know exactly how much to ask. Sometimes I went out to the kitchen to eat before work, and by the time I got back, a tall lady with a bad figure was standing there naked. “But I want a costume setting…” I stammered. To which she said, “That’s okay but I’ve already undressed, so this counts as an hour started, and also nude modeling is more expensive.”

Q: So it is not a requirement to have a perfect figure?

A: Not at all, the following story is an example. One woman modeled at the creative camp in Hajdúböszörmény the other year. One skinny, almost extremely so, the other proportionate, full, approached ideal beauty. And while the former was constantly “in the works,” the desirable, plump lady was barely preoccupied. Poor thing didn’t understand why her not so beautiful companion makes more money than her. My colleagues and I assessed the situation and finally came to the conclusion that it was a more interesting task to draw the bony figure. Of course, we also found that as men we would rather stand in line for the beautiful lady…

Q: What reactions you get when you ask somebody to model for you?

A: Needless to say, non-professionals are truly inspiring to the process of creation in a spiritual way. Sometimes a deeper bond also develops between the model and the painter, in addition to their professional relationship. But this is not a prerequisite for excellent collaboration. Yet this is much like how the public views it as it is often misunderstood when I wanted to paint a lady. “What do you think of me? I’m not that kind of girl!” and she refused. Yet in most cases “only” the well-painted picture is the “outcome”.

Tünde Nagy