Balint Zsako

Hungarian-Canadian-American Artist; (1979-        )

 Balint Zsako was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1979. Balint was largely raised in Canada (he received his BFA at Ryerson University in 2002), the Brooklyn-based Zsako is at this point best known for his quirky, vaguely sinister drawings in watercolour and ink on paper, and for his collages. His career has been on the upswing for a few years now—in 2009 the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto published a monograph of his drawings titled Balint Zsako: Works from the Bernardi Collection based on an exhibition of the previous year—and this spring he had overlapping New York exhibitions of his work at Mulherin + Pollard and the Proposition.

Strolling down Queen Street West in Toronto on a summer evening, you might find yourself wandering into the Drake Hotel and upstairs to its posh second-floor patio. Settling into a couch with a beer or a martini, you have little choice but to contemplate a bright wall-length mural that looks like a hybrid of Egyptian hieroglyphics, European surrealism and the obsessive, virtuosic doodling of a daydreaming teenager. It’s whimsical and metaphysical, and the longer you look at it, the darker and more perverse it becomes.

For this 2010 work Untitled (Romance), Zsako has painted huge, liquid, black-silhouette figures with trees sprouting from their bodies or leaf veins growing through them, floating—dancing—across the wall. There is a woman with blue liquor pouring from her breast; there are half-empty bottles and stray dogs and scuttling mice and bright orange birds. The mural exists in a space somewhere between the Garden of Eden and Sodom and Gomorrah; it’s innocent, lighthearted, orgiastic and apocalyptic all at once.


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