Pilgrims at one time and now at Csontvary's cedar
Presenting Csontvary’s life in the beginning might possibly highlight why I chose him to be my model. I do like Csontvary’s pictures, they really seduce me. Tivadar Kosztka was 27 years old when he heard a heavenly voice: „You will be the greatest painter in the world…greater than Raphael!” Starting from this he devoted all his free time to painting and after a more than ten years preparatory period he dropped his civic profession. He worked alone, lonely as a unapprehended painter during his artistic life. He did not sell his pictures he wanted to keep them together and exhibit them for the public thus. According to the legends he died of hunger in the age of 66 but according to the documents his death was caused by illness. His inheritors did not value his paintings, they wanted to sell the canvases to wagoners. Fate prevented them from doing so in the face of the architect Gedeon Gerloczy. We have to thank to him for keeping Csontvary’s works for the later ages. Gerloczy bought the pictures on an auction, took care of them for decades and did everything to make the oevre to be acknowledged. Csontvary was not honoured while he lived but 29 years after his death, in the year of 1948 Picasso expressed his admiration with the following words: “I did not realize there was another great painter in this century aside from myself.”
To lead my second exhibition held in Pecs I made a picture featuring Picasso admiring a Csontvary canvas. It was not easy at all to find out which pictures could have Picasso seen. Gabor Gerloczy came for our help. He could listen to uncle Gida’s tales about the painter in his childhood and could see the pictures in his flat. He sent me the list out of which I chose the „Pilgrimage to the Cedars in Lebanon”. He sent an authentic photo of the picture to help me as well. Surfing the web, I found also the garden where Csontvary found the tree which he painted. This is the so-called Lamartine tree called today to be the dead Christ’s tree which in the sixties got to be wizened.
This is the story of my tree half of which is living but half of which is dead. To paint it I used the stamp featuring the shroud of Turin showing a print of Christ’s face. My picture features also the eagle, who is the painter looking down at the dancers who came to the tree of life at one time and now as well, but features the holy family escorted by the three kings too.