franyo aatoth > feLugossy László - Hungaricum- feLugossy László / 3 / 2008
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 Crapulent Souls Convalesce on Exhibitions

– as László feLugossy quoted it from Ugo Wazelotti, a researcher of concentration, when he was about to present the art of  franyó aatóth who had lived in Paris since 1978. The spiritual kinship of the two artists had developed into a friendship which came to influence the work of both.


On the 1st of January 2008, about the time of the lentil soup, I woke to perceive that franyó was seeking me via Internet, he was namely delivering his New Year address on the first channel of the Syldavian TV, in a very heated and rapid pace, as vegetarians and other people of unorthodox opinions normally do, true to traditions and routine, wishing bounty and good luck to precipitate on us together with the splendid profundities of the new year. Because that’s what we expect, what we love, the best and quickest way to satisfy our cherished faculty of self-deception.

While it is likely that we envisage seven years of famine.

It may be as well that the last seven years have also been far from abundant, but we can not run forward in time to the point from which we could have a retrospect on ourselves and on our global environment.

Is it possible that franyó knows about this (I mean the time travel)?


franyó aatoth (István Ferenc Tóth) was born in 1954 in Nyíregyháza, relatively near to the house of Krúdy, the classic novelist. He was quite young when he got his nickname for a lifetime, franyó, which he likes to write so, with lower-case letter, out of modesty. In 1978 Victor Vasarely, who had seen his works and deemed him talented, helped him to travel to Paris with an official passport and to study there at the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. He had Albert Zavaro and Abraham Hadad for masters. As soon as in 1981 he had his first individual exhibition in the Cité Universitaire. He built up his own pictorial world with assiduous and disciplined work. Vasarely, father of Op-Art and planetary folklore, continued to support him and to keep an eye on his development. In the eighties franyó travelled a lot and his experience found its way into whatever he painted. His art is characterised by an exact and resigned concept which offers the possibility of associations for the recipients.


In the sanguine red and pitch black pictorial medium, suggesting velvety warmth, of the SYLDAVIAN WORLD even blind people can see, and everything exists at last in a way unmistakably different from that of the antique tragedies, from that of our dauby existence in this world which oppresses us with its terrible weight, and surpasses the most conventional soap operas with their highly regulated dramaturgy; this world will disclose a certainty which, at last, makes distinction between true and false. Because the pictures of franyó emanate that

indispensable naturalness and freedom which make art worth living with. Whenever I experience these noble simplicities in franyo aatoth’s SYLDAVIAN WORLD I feel my inner peace restored, I feel acquiescence, an irradiation that has its radiation outwards as well. (The source of the name Syldavia was the popular Belgian comic book Tintin, where it is the native land of the title hero. For this land the artist created a language, the Syldavian which, as he maintains, can be fluently spoken by everyone after consuming one and a half bottle of spirit – the editor.)


In 1992 he won a competition of the Société Foncière Lyonnaise, and got an atelier-flat in Neuilly, near Paris for three and a half years. From his works painted during those years he made an exhibition in the Musée Arturo Lopez in Neuilly. The next time, in 1997 he organized a group exhibition in a prison, the Maison d’Arrêt du Val d’Oise, entitled Passage – Pas sage (‘a passage of the not good’). From the nineties he made regular trips to China, he was fascinated by the intricate contrast of the Mandarin language and Communist China, which he depicted with his peculiar artistic means. In this period he made use in his pictures of the Chinese characters he had thoroughly studied.


Only when I got acquainted with franyo’s booklet “The Dictionary of Travelling Barflies” (published in fourteen languages, among others in Syldavian) a matchless guide in the bottomless labyrinth of alcoholo-ethnology, unseaming the acid-bitten, sweat-drenched fabric of the complicatedly interwoven bodily and moral torments caused by “civilised” boozing and hangovers, I realized only then that aatoth is a nature’s child who, instead of playing the big head, uses the clear sight of a sober man to search the crapulous human souls, in order to offer the happy fruits of his discovery to the many epicures that drink away their heads as a pastime, or out of joy or sorrow or frustration. This is a splendidly essential book, a universal collection of small truths seasoned with sarcasm and self-irony, its popularity proves that it satisfies a basic demand. People like sincerity and unadorned witticism. The book has seen several reprints in Hungary and publications abroad (the French title was Le petit ivre rouge), a stop-gap which is a witness to the gentle and sensitive creativity of the artist, an attitude of the polyhistor which we need in this world of false egos and utter self-importance as much as a slice of bread, or as the high-sounding Tabula rasa.

For some time I knew franyo’s art and humanity only by phone, and we met only years later. From time to time he called me from Paris, and the hilarity in his voice always dissipated my everyday grief and distress, helped me to step over the insults one is so often exposed to. And to do this, one must have love, one must be more than merely an artist. At the dawn of our acquaintance franyo told me once that he wanted to have exhibitions in Mongolia, Galápagos and Mátészalka more than anywhere else. I wished him sincerely that his dreams should come true, and it gave me a pleasure that they did in the end, moreover I also could exhibit in Mátészalka together with him and Rudolf Palicska, a group of three. I was most fascinated by an exhibition dedicated to the Jurassic reptiles, because for an artist the most he can attain is returning to his own authentic category. We artists namely have retained the optimistic Jurassic reptiles in us, only politicians have grown out themselves, to the highest level of evolution. With the occasion of an exhibition in Kiev franyó was awarded even the Lenin order by the director of the museum there. While drinking vodka and having a lively chat the spirit went very high, Ukraina’s leading intellectuals made on the spot a falsified copy of the original medal looking brand new, and the “dear franyó” was given it after a lot of high-flown toasts. During the exalted ovations a half bottle of vodka tipped over and soaked the diploma, written with ceremonial Cyrillic script and provided with all possible stamps, and it became instantly as full of stains as the conscience of a common mortal. But this is no more than a legend.

Unless it happened so!


On the expressive red background of his pictures pretentious spaces and times appear behind his figures. He dissolves the heavy themes characteristic of ArtBrute in irony and self-irony, and a sarcastic character reminding of the Syldavians is by no means alien to him. Franyó’s affinity to Oriental cultures is well reflected by his pictures. He overwrites his paintings with everyday texts which are, all the same, mysterious and live their own lives in their meanings.


His unforgettable Syldavian maxim is a proof of this: “Mörzixsi krupoa rugtás, buli buxs ja mi suuk.” The rough meaning of which is: “True art bounces off even from the slimmest female ankle.”