"My art is synthesis: Habsburg Pop"

Tibor Lázár was born in 1980 in Becej (Vojvodina, Serbia). He is a member of a Hungarian minority in the northern part of Serbia. There are no other artists in his family – he’s the only black sheep. His parents and older brother work(ed) in mechanical engineering. Somewhere deep down, Tibor also fosters a talent for engineering, having been surrounded with mechanical drawings since early childhood, these were the first visual materials to inspire him as works of art and he considered them in terms of esthetics back then.

Tibor Lázár’s works have been exhibited ever since his university years, appearing in articles and publications in Serbia and as well as abroad. It would be difficult to select a favorite, since Tibor prefers to look forward and is always imagining staging his next great exhibition. One is already  in the works for next year at the Contemporary Gallery of Subotica (Serbia), this is a challenging venue, as the beautiful Art Nouveau building actually used to be a family home. The gallery is not the traditional “white cube” style gallery, but a building with plenty of Art Nouveau architectural elements, it’s exciting to plan a show uniting the space and the works.

Tibor has the artistic gift of making familiar, everyday images feel new and bizarre. His deliberate and random use of merely a handful of color per canvas, guides our vision to the particular arrangement of the subjects. There is a perceived sense of movement in each piece, as if something critical were about to happen, a pending condition so to speak. His impressive paintings induce deep feelings of curiosity and thought, leaving us with the need to gather more pieces to these mysterious puzzles.

Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art? 

A. I’ve been drawing since early childhood. It was totally obvious even back then that I would make art, despite the fact that there was very little art in my immediate surroundings. Whenever I came into contact with art (in books or on TV), I was always amazed by it. I became a fan of whom or what I saw. I’m still a fan.

Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?

A. I don’t know because I don’t know what would have happened if I had chosen a different path. I don’t consider becoming an artist a sacrifice. I have received a lot from art, and feel privileged to be able to do what I do. I believe I would have sacrificed and suffered a lot if I had forced myself down a different path.

Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it? 

A. The question of identity has always been central in my work. Earlier, this was focused on the individual, right now it’s more about the collective. I found a point of departure in the turn-of-the-century architecture of my surroundings, and in the objects that were commonly found in these buildings – tapestries, religious imagery, porcelain figurines, furniture. My art evolves; I tune the concept almost daily, I add content and work on the form.

Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular? 

A. Various effects reach me and are incorporated into my work. I don’t try to escape them, I like being amazed by other people’s art. My art is synthesis. If I had to limit the influence to one name, it’d be Francis Bacon. As far as my current works are concerned, it seems to me that the art of Takashi Murakami and Win Delvoye have a similar message to mine.

Q. What does your art aim to express? 

A. About 15 years ago, I read that according to Freud, the final message of all art is love. I was doubtful about this at the time and thought it was sentimental and cliché to look at art this way. I can now see what he meant. Freud had a connection to art and I feel this applies to my art as well, even if there’s no sentimentalism or little red hearts in my work.

Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

A. It can be called lonely if we consider that an artist works alone in his or her studio. From this perspective, the work of a visual artist is different from that of a composer or someone working in theatre, where there might be more collaboration as a team working on a production. This is just a technical loneliness. I communicate through my works towards others, just as others speak to me through their work. So there’s dialogue, and the artist doesn’t have to be present, since art, buildings, and music can communicate something to us even if the creator (the artist) is not present when we interact with them.

Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing? 

A. When I don’t create art, I teach it. I teach three days a week at a high school for artistically gifted students. I also have two children, ages 10 and 5, so my days are full. When they’re a bit more grown, I’ll try to find a hobby. I don’t know what it’ll be, but I’m sure it’ll have something to do with esthetics.

Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?

A. Let’s create some cool stuff.

Q. What does 'success' mean to you?

A. Success for me means that I don’t have to work an eight-hour shift in a factory. If one can make art, well, that’s a huge privilege in itself. I know how lucky I am, and if someone values my art and gives me money for it, that’s success. Especially if he or she worked eight-hour shifts to make the money. I feel very privileged for my art to have been chosen.

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who? 

A. I feel that I’m in constant communication with artists that came before and with my contemporaries. Even those that lived a long time ago or those who are thousands of kilometers away. They all “hold my hand” while I’m working. This feeling means I’m not alone and it’s not advice, but it’s comforting.

Q. What advice would you give to the next generation? 

A. Giving advice is a great responsibility. Everything can seem insurmountable or uncertain, this is something that can make me feel lost. But I also know that there are no big secrets here, no mysteries to be solved, just dedication and a lot of hard work.