My good friend Balazs Szabo  wants you to know he has  his one-man retrospective show at Depot at Hillsborough Station Fri. March 12th from 5:45 to 11:45pm. There’ll be food, music and good wine — Balazs knows his wines!

More folks should know about his life and his art since he just completed an interview with UNC-TV NOW which aired Wed. March 10thBALAZS IN WINTER 4 800 100_2658. Eszter Vajda, UNC-TV reporter, interviewed him and they spoke about his paintings at Depot which span over 45 years.

If you’re wondering where Balazs (it is pronounced BAL-AGE) is from with that different-sounding name, he hails from Hungary, but he has been living in the U.S. since he was fifteen years old. He and his family fled from the communists during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. His family included his famous actor father, Sandor Szabo, his stepmother, who was also an actress, Barczy Kato, and his brother. Through his father’s connections, Balazs studied with Pal Fried, a talented Hungarian painter and former student of Renoir. At nineteen, he studied art in Vienna at the Vienna Fine Arts Academy and the Angevandte School of Applied Arts financed by his summer jobs in Sweden. He returned to the United States in 1965. Then he was commissioned to paint Ray Kroc’s portrait, which wasn’t easy at all Balazs told me because Kroc didn’t like the way he looked. Balazs was finally able to capture Kroc because he shadowed Kroc, even into the bathroom while he was shaving. Bingo! Balazs learned which side of his face he preferred.

Balazs paints in vivid, intense colors and although he says, “I don’t have a style,” but he does. He is definitely influenced by  the Viennese “fantastic realists” and also derives his artistic inspiration from Hieronymus Bosch, Salvatore Dali and Max Ernst. In many of his paintings, you’ll find hidden images of women and symbols if you look carefully enough. One of my favorites is the invisible woman on the red and orange-patterned couch (it’s called “Red Couch”). It took me a few minutes to see her, but there she was!

Balazs likes to insert meaning and depth into his works and nowhere is this more clear than in the painting, “Twin Towers” he completed after 9/11. He told Eszter Vajda he was at a dinner party and someone issued a remark that sent Balazs reeling. He couldn’t sleep, so he painted “Twin Towers” showing hands cut and intertwining across religions and cultures. The painting is intense and detailed — you have to return to the canvas several times to take in all of the religious symbols.

Balazs is working on building a museum that will launch young North Carolinian artists’ careers as well as teach them how to successfully manage their livelihood. And if you miss his show (try not to!) you can catch him again on Fri. April 9th.

Visit his website here.