of Gyula Zarand
I am going to look at you from faraway, without you even knowing. What do you see from your young face, through that deforming prism? What do you know?
I see what I see. I am an invisible witness, the one that sees the fingers chapped by the cold of winter, gripping tightly the burning cigarette butt just to its end, from which we inhale the last smoke of a hope that has left for sometime. He who watches on a Sunday, from high on a bridge watches the young kids in their baseball caps, hopefully trying with their fishing lines to catch some gudgeon from the Danube. I am he who focuses with his viewfinder, for the sake of prosperity on the young writer in the grass – it is the case to say to him – implore the sky to give him some inspiration that he is missing to finish his fantastic work that he has promised to write for an age. This boy fascinated by soldiers, who followed their march, their silhouettes in overcoats and hats who hesitate like Joseph K. to affront the steps that take them to the castle. These images of young brothers and of their sisters who look at us from behind the windows of their poor houses, these abused travelers, who wait in vain for a train or boat, that never parts, when will it ever go? This guard and his charge, prisoners of the same hopeless universe, this arguing women, these musicians with their half empty glasses.
Yes, me who see you since time immemorial, from through his viewfinder, I give you a thoughtful look, and hold up a hand to help you know which despicable farce is being played out, in some repressed state in the name of the soviets and who pretend to adore an old god in cardboard.
To generate such an intense look, you need a predestined magic.
This is the story of the photographer Gyula Zarand, born in Budapest in 1944, and surrounded from birth by a family of photographers, who served as his tutors: the grandfather, the mother and father were photographers, the aunt and sister of his mother were as well. However the young Zarand avoided from his very first pictures the conventions of the pose, and immerged himself quickly in everyday street life of his Hungarian compatriots in shooting for a newspaper a number of series of diverse and singular works that we can recall many of them instantly.
A little after, Gyula Zarand had the chance to had the chance to be sent by the head of photography at the magazine to accompany Henri Cartier-Bresson, who had come to discover Budapest. This was another step in the destiny of Zarand who during 10 days learnt intensely from his contact with Cartier-Bresson.
In parallel to his work as a photographic reporter, Zarand involved himself in the avant-garde art movement and shot a number of photos of artists, film producers, writers, painters and musicians. Thanks to his talent, he became an exceptional witness of his age. These are the photographs that we find here, that include children, old people, everyday people, who we see in the city in stages of construction or still being destroyed, with all poetic signs both deep and serious. They are reflections of time in suspension and are a witness of an infinite humanity in the photographers look, a declining utopia.
Later Gyula Zarand came to Paris where this talented Hungarian photographer decided to focus on a road to fine art. On arrival in Paris he found Cartier-Bresson who advised him and helped him find his direction. He in his turn produced pictures of particular subtly and originality, surrounded by the originality of Paris, of its regions, its people, as others like Brassaï, Cappa, Cartier-Bresson, Kertész or Izis had discovered before.
Towards the end of the 1980’s, he traveled back frequently to Hungary, where through his viewfinder he was a lucid witness to the fall of the Marxist ideology when it began to fall. The un-bolted, abandoned socialist statues, left in local parks, like some form of cemetery to a bad dream. This period of passionate work, led to a fantastic exhibition entitled « Utopie Perdue » or « Lost Utopia » with some of these photographs to be re-issued in a future publication.
Gyula Zarand was perhaps better than the others, and certainly one of the first to put his heart into alerting the world to the risks of globalization with all his soul and spirit. His photographs show and denounce a society without ideas and without an understanding of the needs of the individual man, which is ravaged by materialism in its most primeval and sordid form.
He sheltered himself during a period of abstraction, influenced by Platon and Rudolf Stiener, he looked for messages by following different routes through various European capitals. I have personally written various poems inspired by his veritable supernatural « apparitions » which he managed to capture in his viewfinder.
More recently two trips to Mongolia have again allowed Zarand to deepen the level of his art. He has bathed in a history which dates back more than a thousand years, in a country that is more than four times bigger than France, but with a population of only two million people. He has discovered nature in an untouched state, without any trace of western civilization. He enables us to feel through his photographs, which are also the subject of a big exhibition, which focus on nature and the inhabitants who are in touch with their own spirits, the earth and the sky. We can also be touched by the real charm, charisma and virtues of this lifestyle, something that Zarand captures perfectly.
It is this form of profoundly human life, a world away from the Gods of modern western life, of stock markets and the internet, that he has photographed for the past few years. Thanks to his very singular talent these facets can also be seen in his photographs of the cities and countryside of Europe, this makes Gyula Zarand a real and authentic independent creative talent, and a natural successor to the past masters of both French and Hungarian photography.
Poète, président du P.E.N. Français et de la Nouvelle Pléiade,
secrétaire général de l’Académie Mallarmé