Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fab Photolands: An Interview with Gabor Szilasi

Montreal photographer Gabor Szilasi is well known for his portrayals of Quebec, as well as his poetic black and whites of his Hungarian homeland. My Q&A with Szilasi, conducted on the occasion of a major survey at the National Gallery of Canada, is now up at the National Post website. Here's an excerpt:

Q Tell me about the title of your show, The Eloquence of the Everyday.

A The title actually came from my curator, David Harris. But it really is everyday life and ordinary people who interest me in photography. When someone has a great reputation, like Mick Jagger or CĂ©line Dion, you can't really take a bad picture of them. Also, I enjoy photographing people in the intimacy of their homes, where they don't feel a need to put on an act. This title also reflects my interests in architecture and urban landscapes - I don't look for very spectacular interiors or buildings, just ordinary ones.

Q If the everyday is so eloquent, why can't most of us see it? Or, why is it that we can see it better in a photograph than in real life?

A Photography can have a surreal quality. In it, we're able to reduce the world to an 8-by-10-inch piece of paper. This allows us to really study the image or the subject. Usually when we meet someone, we don't have time to really examine or listen to them. But a photograph permits us to reflect on the person and the objects that surround him or her - all these things describe a personal taste, a culture, even social classes, and that tells a lot about the subject.

What can I say? He's 82 and still rockin' it. Good to know that's a possibility, eh?

Image of Szilasi's Motorcyclists at Lake Balaton 1954 from


planforamiracle said...

Great Q &A!

I saw the Joliette version of this survey show and it was fantastic. It's really nice to be reminded that a photograph doesn't have to fill the entire wall to be profoundly affecting.

Leah Sandals said...

Thanks! Hope to see the show myself soon.