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SI-LA-GI (Szabolcs Szilagyi), Hungarian-Swedish contemporary mixed media artist was born in an aristocratic family in Tokaj, Hungary on 17 September 1949.
In 1966 he emigrated via Italy to Sweden where he studied painting at the Academy of Fine Art and later continued his studies at the University of Stockholm (Science of visual arts). During this period he also worked with experimental film and photography and started to work with videos in 1973. He was a pioneer in the mid-1970s who began making installations using video.
I could write my life story in countless ways, the episodes that seem remarkable, but it would always be false. Even if each story on its own is true.
In 1966, at the age of 16, I arrived to Sweden from Hungary, by way of Italy, with many adventures along the way. Later I would cross twelve national borders illegally, for various reasons. In 1978, I walked over the Himalayas to Sikkim, because I wanted to meet with His Holiness, the XVI Gyalva Karmapa, one of Tibet’s enlightened masters. In 1980, I smuggled a friend from the closed world of Eastern Europe to the seemingly free West. I was never able to accept borders or limits in any form. In my teenage years, I had tried just about every drug and various crimes, but then from one day to the next, I spontaneously decided to quit all that, and for the next ten years the practice of Okinawa Karate, under the guidance of Japanese masters, dominated my life. I then studied painting at the Royal Academy of Stockholm, as well as art history at Stockholm University. I later spent a number of years over time in Buddhist monasteries, on retreats and in practice.
With this text, I am constructing a myth, which must be demolished. I am simultaneously stupid and wise, hard and soft, strong and weak, sincere and a liar, rich and poor, conceited and modest. This too is false.
Art is a mean and a possibility to be personal, provocative, reflective, experimental, independent and free. To bring myself to the surface, and at the same time, to question myself. If I aim to satisfy the expectations of others, I would call that theatre or the production of illusions rather than art. In my work, I reflect upon personal and social events and changes, independent of expectations, and I am happy for the relative freedom attained.
An authentic work of art can only be founded on personal experience. It is the authentic life of the author that authenticates the work of art. If someone engages in unessential things, then his/her creation can also be only unsubstantial. What is essential? That everyone and everything is transient.
…SI-LA-GI’s works are not about aesthetic values or formal solutions but the direct exploration of reality and all levels of intellectual and emotional understanding as well as making others understand are his subjects. He does not want to amaze but to awaken…
Dr. Lajos Pressing
…SI-LA-GI’s works raise questions, stimulate, but at the same time remain open. His artworks are not completed products, they are not articles but communication instruments and systems. His personality corresponds to contemporary arts, we could say to global culture’s most advanced approach…
Pr. Pierre Restany
…SI-LA-GI’s identity is not based on some school, type or identification with any technical knowledge, but his own human experiences, encounters and recognition. To make them visible he bravely, freely and in a supreme way uses any style or expressive media. This freedom can equally manifest itself in a minimalist or in an expressive way, and it does not come from subjectivity or personal judgement. SI-LA-GI’s freedom breaks through the conditionality of birth, race and culture and expresses the dignity of a human who recognises his own universal importance, who is a creator and user but not a slave to his instruments and life conditions…
Dr. Lajos Pressing