Hungarians snap up Warhol-like paintings of leader Orban

Tue Aug 12, 2014 12:07pm EDT
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By Marton Dunai

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - When Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban won re-election in a landslide in April, his dominance over the country's politics cheered supporters, dismayed opponents and inspired one artist to immortalize him in more than 100 portraits.

Orban, whose center-right Fidesz party has held a two-thirds parliamentary majority since 2010, has consolidated power to become the most commanding politician in post-Communist Hungary.

However, his uncompromising governing style, which critics say has weakened the press and judiciary, also contributed to a deeply divided society.

For artist Kriszta "Tereskova" Nagy, the election result was a jolt. Within a month, she produced 57 paintings of Orban, then 69 more, in a pop-art manner reminiscent of Andy Warhol.

Conservatives, liberals and even Orban's wife, Aniko Levai, have snapped up the paintings, bringing in about 8 million forints ($34,000).

In Communist-era Hungary, leaders' portraits were hung in every public building and enormous photographs were displayed at state celebrations, so depicting politicians is a touchy subject for art, Tereskova acknowledged.

"I swore never to do politics, but politics does me. It has come in and sat down on my bed," she told Reuters at Budapest's Godot Gallery where her work was exhibited.

"I am provoking right now. Not necessarily Orban, but the whole country and its intellectuals."   Continued...

Hungarian artist Kriszta "Tereskova" Nagy poses next to her portraits of Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest August 5, 2014.  REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh