RYERSON IMAGE CENTRE

Gabor Szilasi: The Eloquence of the Everyday
June 19 - August 25, 2013

Curated by David Harris

Main Gallery

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“Everything is constantly changing around us: what my camera captures at this moment is already of the past. That is why it is important to me to record the world as I see it today through photography. I am not interested in the past or the future: I am interested in the present. Through the photographic image, I can directly record the signs of the past and the future as they appear in this moment.” 
- Gabor Szilasi, 1977

Gabor Szilasi was twenty-nine years old in 1957 when he and his father arrived in Halifax as immigrants fleeing Hungary. Two years later, he settled in Montreal, where he has lived ever since.

Szilasi had developed an interest in European pictorialist photography while still living in Budapest, but from the time of his arrival in Quebec, his work has been sustained by an unwavering belief in the documentary value of the medium. In keeping with documentary practices, his concern centres on the subject of the photograph and its clear presentation and elucidation. Szilasi’s viewpoint remains that of an outsider, one whose European perspective and sensibility have allowed him to temper formality with sympathy and to produce compelling photographs that embody a sense of profound compassion.

Szilasi has created remarkable images of Quebec and Europe – townscapes and cityscapes, architectural views, and environmental portraits, a genre in which the setting plays a prominent role. The cultural and historical value of the work rests not only in the eloquence of the individual images, but also in the cumulative record they provide.

This exhibition presents the photography of Gabor Szilasi, describing its evolution over five decades through an examination of the work carried out in three locations: Hungary, rural Quebec, and Montreal. Within each section, architectural, and town and city views mingle with portraits in order to reveal Szilasi’s belief in the centrality of community. The exhibition includes early images of Hungary in the 1950s, as well as those made since 1980. The photographs of rural Quebec date principally from the 1970s, while those of Montreal span the years from the late 1950s to the present.

David Harris is the guest curator of the exhibition Gabor Szilasi: The Eloquence of the Everyday, and is the author of the accompanying catalogue (National Gallery of Canada, 2009).

Harris has a Master of Arts in Art History, from the University of New Mexico (1991). From 1989-1996, he was Associate Curator of Photographs at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. Between 1996 and 2004, he worked as an independent curator and photographic historian, specializing in nineteenth-century and contemporary architectural and landscape photography. In 1999 he began teaching at the School of Image Arts at Ryerson University, and was appointed Assistant Professor in 2004 and Associate Professor in 2008.

In addition to numerous articles, he is the author of Eugène Atget: Unknown Paris (2003; an English edition of Itinéraires Parisiens, 1999), Of Battle and Beauty: Felice Beato's Photographs of China in 1860 (1999), Gabor Szilasi: Photographs, 1954-1996 (1997), and Eadweard Muybridge and the Photographic Panorama of San Francisco, 1850-1880 (1993). He is currently engaged in a study of use and history of the photographic contact sheet.

Organized by the Musée d’art de Joliette and the National Gallery of Canada.

Gabor Szilasi: The Eloquence of the Everyday
Photograph Credit: Gabor Szilasi, Motorcyclists at Lake Balaton, 1954. Collection of the artist © Gabor Szilasi

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