Montreal’s McCord Museum is featuring Hungarian photographer Gabor Szilasi. Organized by guest curator David Harris, Gabor Szilasi: The Eloquence of the Everyday combines portraits, domestic and commercial interiors, cityscapes and images of rural life. It also includes environmental portraiture, a genre of photography in which the setting—a person’s home, workplace, or even a public place—plays an essential role in describing the subject…
The exhibition is organized into three geographically-based themes: Hungary, Rural Quebec and Montreal. It comes to the McCord from Canada’s National Gallery. Based in Montreal, Gabor Szilasi has documented a lost era: there were no ipods, no computers and often no TVs in his straight-forward shots taken during the 1950s. What began as a modest study of communities evolved into an extensive documentation of rural Quebec. Szilasi’s series of the countryside around Montreal is a fascinating peek into a forgotten world. Stoves needed to be stoked. Large crosses were the focal point of many a room as many homes were religiously Catholic at that time.
Like the work of French photographer Henri Cartier Bresson, whom he met, many of Szilasi’s images are black and white. Later he did use colour and at the McCord exhibit there are some delightful diptychs with one photo in black and white and the other in colour. Later on, he took to photographing his subjects at extremely close proximity, tightly framing the sitter’s facial features. As a documentary photographer, the artist had a fascination with daily life of people, interiors, vernacular architecture and urban landscapes. With an unerring and largely self-taught eye, he found the magic in the commonplace. For visitors to Montreal, the show is doubly interesting. His Montreal street panoramas, shot with a special camera in the 1980s, show his love of signage and advertising and his shots of Ste-Catherine Street, the heart of this city’s commercial district, are a particularly interesting look at this city’s past.
690 Sherbrooke Street West
-Gabor Szilasi, Motorcyclists at Lake Balaton, 1954