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Gabor Szilasi
The Eloquence of the Everyday
David Harris, November 7, 2011
Linda Dornan à son appartement, Montréal, décembre 1979_Gabor Szilasi, 2009
Linda Dornan à son appartement, Montréal, décembre 1979_Gabor Szilasi, 2009
 
Largely self-taught, Gabor Szilasi started to photograph in Hungary in 1952 when he purchased his first camera—a Zorkij. In 1956 he documented the Hungarian Revolution in Budapest and shortly afterwards fled the country, eventually immigrating to Canada in 1957.  From 1959 until 1971, Szilasi worked as a photographer at the present Office du Film du Québec, photographing a wide range of subjects including Expo ’67.  During these years, Szilasi’s technical and practical experience, and extensive travel in Quebec grew through a wide range of assignments.  The photographer Sam Tata introduced him to the work of the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson and encouraged him to abandon pictorialism for social-documentary photography. In 1966, he was introduced to the work of the American documentary tradition as practised by Paul Strand and Walker Evans while taking a course at the Thomas More Institute. Parallel to his artistic practice, Szilasi was also a dedicated teacher: from 1971-1980, he taught at the Collège du Vieux Montréal and from 1980-1995, at Concordia University

Motocyclistes au lac Balaton, 1954_Gabor Szilasi, 2009
Motocyclistes au lac Balaton, 1954_Gabor Szilasi, 2009
 
Szilasi’s personal work during the 1960’s includes a rich mixture of street scenes in Montreal, portraits of friends and family and images taken at exhibition openings. In the 70’s, Szilasi embarked on an extended series of projects documenting life and cultural change in rural Quebec. He first focused on the Île aux Coudres and the Charlevoix region, then the Lotbinière region from 1976 to 1977 and the Abitibi-Temiscaming and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region between 1976 and 1979. In these works which he shot mostly with a view camera, Gabor focused exclusively on street views, and the interiors of residential and commercial buildings. From 1977-1979, he also worked on a series that documented storefronts, chaotic signage, and commercial buildings of Ste-Catherine Street. This project led in 1980-81 to a series of Montreal street panoramas achieved through his use of a panoramic banquet camera.

Luc Simard, Édouard Guay et Joseph Lajoie devant un stock car, Saint-Urbain, Charlevoix, sept-oct. 1970_Gabor Szilasi, 2009
Luc Simard, Édouard Guay et Joseph Lajoie devant un stock car, Saint-Urbain, Charlevoix, sept-oct. 1970_Gabor Szilasi, 2009
 
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