Born in Budapest in a well-to-do family, George Csato was 19 when he decided to become a painter. After completing classical art studies in Vienna, he was drawn into the Berlin vortex of the 1930's and became a pupil of Archipenko, Kāthe Kollwitz and Carl Hofer, also receiving personal tuition from Klee and Feininger, whose stamp his paintings would bear for a lifetime.

He then moved to Prague and mixed with painters, musicians, writers, all whom had also taken refuge there from Nazi Germany. Further studies were with Kokoschka and Thiele. A draughtsman of distinction, he then worked for Newspapers and grew famous as a cartoon caricaturist and portrait painter

War projected this mildly elegant, cultivated and refined artist into a world of chaos and violence. Deeply upset by the sequence of its convulsions, Csato's paintings undergo a process of radical change of expression in shape and colour.

Towards the end of the upheaval, he returns to Budapest but develops an allergy to the aesthetic decalogue in favour there and then. He then escapes to the fresh fields of France. Jean Cocteau, at that time a Prince of the Tout-Paris, masterminds Csato's first personal exhibition at Paul Morihien's Bookshop in 1948. Csato exhibits at Morihien's a pageant of works from his internment time in Russia, with other paintings smuggled out of Budapest, and some of his recent time in Paris. All his artistic efforts were warmly welcomed by an appreciative audience of critics and one of them underlined the young artist's stubborn act of will in building a post cubiste construction in each of his works. The electric atmosphere of Paris, together with the shock of liberty revisited, help to carry George Csato's pictorial trance onto the remote side of cubism.

Driven by a merciless quest for the naked core of vision, he aims at getting away from the literal accidents of reality, and towards a restriction in the use of colour, the vulgarity of which he resents, particularly in the red range, directly reminiscent, to him, of bloodshed. His strategy was to invite trouble by triggering off emotion in the viewer's mind, by the play of asymmetric structures with the rythmic use of lag as created by the unexpected fusion of tension lines. Where the shadows then balance the light spots, thus generating a deep flurry of vibrations in the viewers eye.

England,( where he meets his wife, Diana), then Canada,and the U.S.A, all have a warm welcome for George Csato. His first show during 1953 in the Hanover Gallery London is a hit, with nearly all the works exhibited soon gone to buyers' walls. He teaches at the University of Saskatchewan, in Saskatoon, Canada, where his works win pride of place in the illustrious Mendel Collection. He is on show in the various capital cities and large towns of the world: Paris, London, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Amsterdam, Bonn, New York, Sydney, Melbourne . . .

Yet Csato remains a devout and devoted citizen of Paris- the city of the world (he likes to say) perhaps the most difficult to live in, but where the breath of the spirit and curiosity of the mind are the most constantly stimulated.

From the middle fifties onwards, his abstract landscapes glow into warmer colours. With the sixties some feminine curves show up, accompanied crisp and even acid tones providing, in Csato's phrase, a therapy against the creeping onset of age. Strident overtones make their own path onto the canvas, brushing away the obstacles of pre-established borders.

Having found in abstract painting his own form of expression, .Csato excels in his brilliant expression of the contending elements, playing of against each other, the whites and the greys of the fifties, first leading the way to the blacks with the red freckles or insects, next to the yellow and greens of the seventies.

All throughout his working life, his portraits of famous men or well-known faces, have given him a chance to display his draughtsmanship, as well as his science in the interpretation of the mysteries of the human soul: from Colette to Einstein, from Rachmaninov to Bertrand Russell ''Pablo Casals was the one whose portrait I most enjoyed painting because he would keep on playing while I worked . . .''

George Csato left us in 1983, but his work shall remain as a model of craftsmanship and harmony, harbouring the seldom seen graces of vigour and subtlety combined.

Claudine Danilo. Paris 1986


Jennifer Nadin, Diana Csato and Claudine Danilo 1986
 Jennifer Nadin, Diana Csato and Claudine Danilo 1986