5 Things We Learned... Gábor Miklós Szőke
GABOR MIKLOS SZOKE, ARTIST
I met Gábor Miklós Szőke in 2015 while sourcing an artist who could create an iconic falcon sculpture for the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. His dynamic and monumental animal sculptures transform landscapes around the world. Their incredible detail in movement and form reveal a deep connection between artist and animal as Gábor’s sculptures honor the beasts they represent. A long-time animal activist, his works reverently draw you into the power of the subject and its surroundings.
Gábor studied sculpture at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts and at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan. The dramatic nature of French romanticism had a strong impact on his work, specifically the expressive brutality of Géricault's paintings. He considers sculptures to be the palpable result of his work, by which he can re-trace significant events in his life. For him, existence equals creation and sculptures are the physical manifestations of this. He breaks down anatomical forms into elementary units and then reinterprets these with the industrial reconstruction of these elements. He brings complex and inextricable structures to life.
Szőke is internationally known for his public animal sculptures. He has nearly 100 site-specific works on three continents, which are all emblematic features in their surroundings. His sculptures - made of wood and/or steel - are often found in busy public squares in cities including Budapest, Washington DC, Atlanta, Gstaad, Milan, Rome, Vienna, Moscow, and others.
Here are 5 Things We Learned about Gábor.
What made you...you?
I see new opportunities in everything. A pile of old slaths is firewood for most; but for me, it is a new form of expression. I also have the courage to see projects through to the end. I'm a keen observer and I'm curious and eager to learn and develop. Obviously, a certain kind of openness is necessary. I don't judge, but I re-interpret materials, objects, and situations - I elevate them to a new level. There are contradictions, which inspire me. For example, the aesthetics of fear, disgust, beauty, construction and destruction. There are people who are afraid of an abandoned factory building - I see a headquarters in it and I build an empire from it. There are people who bury their dead dog - I revive it.
When are you happiest?
Happiness for me is not a point in time, but a process. Many times I work for years to be happy for five minutes. Often I cannot be happy about success. I go on, but in the meanwhile I also feel gratitude and love. Obviously, I'm happy when I can do what I want, when there is an opportunity to do what I want, when I see that there's a point to what I do. I'm happy to see what effect my sculptures have on people. For example, since the completion of my Atlanta Falcon sculpture, it's amazing to see how many social events have been organized under its wings. My bird has become part of the city's identity and life. More than 10,000 people were curious to see my last exhibition, where many personal objects and stories were presented for three weeks. I met followers who pay attention to the happenings of my daily life, and even school trips were organized to attend my guided tours. This too is happiness for me.
Would you rather have a muse or be a muse?
My muse is my late dog, Dante, who probably doesn't mean anything to other people, but the private mythology I built around him might inspire others. Thus, my muse gives life to my sculptures and then my sculptures, which are me, become muses for others. This is a cycle of inspiration.
Who do you admire?
I admire people who transcend their own boundaries. I cannot name any specific artists from art history, because there are so many whom I have admired at one point or another.
What is important?
The freedom to do what I want, perseverance, determination, hard work, self-confidence, a good team and partner, giving back to the community, humility, bringing out the best in myself, openness, not being afraid of novelty, but being aware of things (from the) past.
Follow Gábor and his work on Instagram @gabormszoke
Images from left to right: Gábor Miklós Szőke by Orssy; Halfway, 2018 installed at Ybl Budai Kreativ Haz in Budapest, photo by Mate Gregus; The Atlanta Falcon Sculpture, 2017, photo by Timi Szőke; The Horse That Ate Embers, 2017, photo by Balint Jaksa; Gábor with his Dante dogs in front of Ybl Budai Kreativ Haz, 2018, photo by Mark Viszlay; Horses in the Castle Park, 2010, photo by András Vikman
Check out the below video about Gábor's recent exhibition at Ybl Budai Kreativ Haz in Budapest: