Sam Havadtoy – Exhibiton Opening at Museum of Art – Cluj-Napoca


Sam Havadtoy is a unique artist with a unique life: originating from Transylvania yet born in London, he later arrived in Budapest circa 1956 just as the Soviet tanks were moving in. Later he turned up in New York and soon mixed it up with the artistic elite, becoming good acquaintances with Keith Haring, George Condo, Donald Baechler and Jasper Johns. Pop art master Andy Warhol was even more, as he became a master to him as well. So it comes as little surprise that the exhibition profiles five of Havadtoy’s creative periods, focusing almost wholly on two Hommage-series, one to Andy Warhol and the other to Agnes Martin, who is a true idol for him.

At first glance Beauties, The Mystery of Life-series, dedicated to Agnes Martin, seem quite monochromatic; but a closer look reveals profound differences, in every painting the combination of about forty different shades. The aim was to “get under the skin of Agnes Martin”, who spent an entire life creating her skillfully diaphanous paintings. Havadtoy’s technique is born out of a psycho-therapeutic need. He writes down his thoughts and feelings that concern him on the canvas and then he covers the text with a coat of paint. Then comes the application of a layer of lace, which is also concealed and painted.

The surface of his works are intricate and unique, typical only of Havadtoy. That permanent play of emptiness and fullness – that derives from the structure of the lace – becomes, in fact, the structural element of the image. „I wanted to use the fragments of lace to express my own uselessness, in the hope that by doing so I could manage to revive their beauty, to give us both a new life. We are all just fragments of one another,” says the artist. With The Monkey King, Havadtoy pays tribute to Andy Warhol. Here the works are inspired by the Ramayana, the great Indian epic that contains the narrative of the adventures of the hero Hanumat, the Monkey King. “When I first met Warhol, he was like the Monkey King who, in the Japanese version, is in stone, and needs to be woken up, brought back to life. At first Warhol, too, seemed completely closed up. He would respond with just a single sound, ‘wow’, to anything you said. It took many meetings before I discovered his vitality.” – remembers Havadtoy.

Apart from the above two series the visitor will see two pieces of the Legends of the Legends,.… works from Love is Hell and four paintings from The Game, a series which document the forty-one moves of the famous third game of the Reykjavik match of 1972 of Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. After shows in Budapest, Bucharest and Moscow, for the first time in Italy in the Fondazione Mudima in Milan, the Italian and international audiences will have a chance to indulge in this concealed world for themselves.

Photo Credits: Catalina Cosoiu

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