Memory of love
The exhibition “Memory of Love” is presented in the historic interiors of the Józef Brandt’s Palace. Amongst historical objects, furniture and artworks, Sam Havadtoy situates well-known fairy-tale characters, encoded in the collective consciousness. Like Pop Art artists, the creator exposes the influence that mainstream media, ubiquitous advertising and the aesthetics derived from it have on society. The way in which virtual images are ‘consumed’ is becoming faster and less reflective. Humanity feasts on pictorial language like fast food. It provides an addictive dose of dopamine, is easy to consume yet hard to digest, and does not provide the nourishing reflections and deep thoughts that are only available to the written word.
Havadtoy remarkably combines elements of pop culture with 19th-century palace interiors. On the one hand, the contrast between cartoon characters and handicrafts is striking. On the other hand, however, the figures clothed in lace and the painstakingly hand-painted patches of colour resonate with echoes of the ancient fine arts, where the energy of the creator was enchanted. In a historical space, the artist creates a surrealist-pop vision in which the past and fantasy blend, and a longing for the innocence of childhood is contrasted with a reality that is not necessarily fairytale-like.
One of the hallmarks of his style is the hand-woven lace that covers his sculptures and paintings, carrying multiple meanings. The artist remembers it from his childhood in Hungary, where it spread its openwork tentacles in every house: on armchair headrests, on tables and as decorations on which small trinkets were placed... One could say that it was woven into the mundane of life, became tedious and, after a while, was even resented by the artist.
After leaving Hungary and spending years in New York, where he worked as an interior designer, lace returned as an attribute of the family home. While decorating cosy rooms for his clients, Sam came up with the idea of covering cushions with lace. At the time, he could not have imagined that the material would be so important in his future work and become an element of his unique style.
For Sam Havadtoy, the works he creates also have a therapeutic value. When he covers them with stories from his life that he only knows, he releases dormant emotions. By wrapping them in lace and another layer of painting, he symbolically says goodbye to his memories. For the artist, the act of creating is an act of self-discovery. As he says, each time he eagerly awaits the opening of a new ‘door’ of artistic expression to experience what lies behind it. He is eternally curious about the world. And this is what we can find in his works: they allow us, for a moment, to become a child again, one that focuses on the bright side of life, unaware that difficult stories and unwanted emotions remain hidden beneath the lace and shimmering, luminous, colourful paint spots...
Sam Havadtoy, painter, sculptor and owner of Gallery 56. He was born into a Hungarian family in London on 4 August 1952. He spent his childhood in Hungary. In 1971, he moved to England and a year later to the United States, where he worked as an interior designer. In 1978, he opened the Sam Havadtoy Gallery and Interior Design Studio. He developed his distinctive style in the 1980s. In his work, we can find a mixture of different cultures, above all Central European and American popular culture.