Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Back to the Future

"Children should be seen and seldom heard" is a credo that our parents subscribed to fully. One learned how to play quietly, never to speak at the dining table and only to venture an opinion when directly asked for it. No doubt a reaction to this parenting has resulted in our natural exuberance wherever we go, our love of loud chatter at dinner and our forthright views on anything from the price of fish to the philosophy of the human condition.

Lance Hattatt in contemplation before 'Ambivalent Space' by Róbert Várady [image JRH]

And perhaps our childhood experiences, most often as viewers of adult behaviour rather than as fully involved participants, have also accounted for our independence from the mainstream, of being outsiders and observers, ever the individuals as opposed to part of the crowd. We have found a kindred spirit.

We were introduced to Róbert Várady, the painter, and his works through the Várfok Gallery, Budapest's oldest privately owned art gallery. He is self-effacing, open and erudite. His art is powerful, haunting and, at once, both highly representative of the age to which it belongs and, yet, of another era entirely.

the painter Róbert Várady in front of his oil on canvas, 'Metropolis III', at the Várfok Gallery 

Realistically painted figures occupy a space and time which, in turns, is real and unreal, fixed and yet floating. They share an interface with a variety of geometric images, carefully drawn yet never clear cut. And, no matter how many characters there are, they appear to have no real underlying connection one with another nor, indeed, with their observers. The viewer, never pampered, patronised or comforted is challenged to make something of it all.

'Doing Business at Full Moon' , Róbert Várady, oil on canvas 2011, at the Várfok Gallery

In similar ways to how the new technologies confront humans constantly to reappraise and decode an ever developing cyberspace, so Várady's pictures ask questions, pose ideas and invite one to wrestle with the task of making sense of the individual and of society at large.

'Unidentified Object Slightly Radiating', Róbert Várady, oil on canvas 2011, Várfok Gallery

The art historian, Andrea Bordács, has written that "Várady's painting is the art of no man's land". Meditative and lonely figures, seen but not heard, seek an identity for self and a place in an almost virtual world. What better metaphor for life in 2013?

N.B. The exhibition, Várady Róbert / Tér(v)iszony, runs at the Várfok Gallery, 1012 Budapest, Várfok utca 11 until March 2nd.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

As Luck Would Have It

Crossing the Danube via the Elizabeth Bridge, it is impossible to ignore the Klothilde Palaces. Side by side, a matching pair, they act as sentinels, guarding the gateway to nineteenth century Pest. 

For too many years they remained neglected, run down, symbols of a troubled past. That is until very recently when Fortune, smiling and munificent, restored these wayward twins to former glory.

the Klothilde Palaces [courtesy of Geolocation, Wikimedia] looking west

We are no strangers to them. For in December of last year M, our most generous friend, following a spectacular evening at the ballet, hosted the most glittering dinner and party in what has now become the Buddha Hotel, Restaurant and Bar.

the grand staircase of the Klothilde Palace leading upwards to the Buddha Bar [December]

looking down from above into the Buddha Restaurant on the night of M's December party

And only last week we were there once more, together with M, this time in celebration of the Chinese New Year at Richard's invitation. What immense fun too it proved to be. Throughout dinner, each course more delicious than the last, in a restaurant which positively dazzled, we were entertained to cavorting, dancing dragons whose brilliance and colour transported us from a snow filled Budapest to an Orient of gaiety and promise.

a dragon cavorts in the most entertaining fashion through the Buddha Restaurant last week

an impassive Buddha looks on at the antics of the dragon in celebration of the New Year

striding into a New Year last week, a yellow dragon partnered by one clothed in red

Then in complete contrast, the gentle, quiet sophistication of a dancer whose beauty, grace and charm captivated and enthralled the entire room.

an admiring onlooker at an adjacent table looks on in wonder at the grace of the dancer

Afterwards, in the upstairs bar, and now well beyond the witching hour, to music, dancing, laughter and more dragons we ate the most wicked of chocolate puddings and 'partied' the night away.

much merriment and enjoyment to be had at our table in the bar, well into the early hours

And in opening our Fortune Cookies, no snakes in the grass to be found!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Chandeliers and Champagne

To take Afternoon Tea at The Ritz Hotel in London is a treat. To stay at The Ritz is a luxury. To live at The Ritz for some ten years or so is the making of a legend. Yet this was, and is, the life of Richard Adams and, joy of joys, he is now to be found mostly in Budapest where our worlds collide.

Richard Adams, interior decorator, aesthete, bon viveur, and stylish peacock is a man of extensive and varied sensibilities. Audaciously bold, sharp eyed, quick witted, dramatically gestured and disarmingly attractive, he is prodigiously creative, generous, excellent company, a most loyal friend, and an all round 'good egg'. We love him.

Richard Adams caught in one of many looking glasses in his beautifully styled apartment
In Richard's artistic and beautifully manicured hands, clients can be certain that he will bring a civilising, cultured and knowledgeable influence to bear on any decoration scheme. He is master of his Art. And, above all, the end result will be charming, comfortable, elegant and, perhaps most significantly, fun. He is reluctant to describe his decorating style but a close inspection of his Budapest apartment reveals an interior where Neo-Classical with Baroque overtones meet 1960s London Carnaby Street via the Italian Renaissance. It is nothing if not eclectic, never for a moment pretentious and always, at every turn, visually exciting.

seen behind his desk, Richard Adams in the drawing room of his Budapest apartment

a wonderful arrangement of curtains in the drawing room; the chairs, a set of four, are French

A crystal chandelier of impressive proportion dominates the central axes of the drawing room and entrance hall corridor, pulling the visitor in from the moment he or she steps through the door. A white leather sofa, replete with leopard print cushions, is backed by a magnificent mural of St. Peter's in Rome. Silk curtains in shimmering sea-green festoon the high windows and, importantly, cascade onto the floor. Elegant looking glasses play with light and space, objets trouvées delight the guest explorer, plush upholstery is off set by bare stone and skilfully constructed cabinets hide from view those everyday essentials which are deemed to offend the eye. The marble lined bathroom is pure Hollywood.

a chandelier of impressive proportion dominates the central axes of hall and drawing room
Richard Adams and Lance Hattatt in conversation seated before the drawing room mural

throughout the apartment looking glasses reflect light and space adding a sense of infinity

a deep, sunken bath  is positioned centre stage in the luxurious, marble lined bathroom

Richard's apartment is testament to the work of a consummate professional. With his sure touch and exacting eye for detail, it is no surprise that his order books read like pages from Debrett's and an International 'Who's Who'. And as for what Richard reads, why 'Vogue', of course!

the lamp is dimmed over the drinks' table, the cat is comfortable, and we are away to dinner