Zoltán André is an architect from Budapest. His activities include design, teaching at university, drawing, painting, building scale models, and taking photographs. Recently he has been discovering the artistic aspects of structure, form, lights and colors of plants as well. He has been drawing since early childhood, experimenting with various techniques. He enjoys being absorbed in the process of building paper mock-ups, or vivifying his sketches on paper reliefs. The numerous drawings and paintings his life’s work consists of so far are now available at Artodu Gallery of Contemporary Art.
Artodu: What is dominant in your work as an artist: design and architecture, or composing pictures? What describes your creative process?
Zoltán André: Design is certainly dominant as a result of my professional background, but as I do many freehand sketches besides working on a computer, I practice drawing constantly. My method of looking for inspiration often includes intuitive sketching, resulting in gestures and motives coming from the heart rather than intentionally.
Artodu.: How has your style changed over the years?
Zoltán André: I used to draw a lot as a child, participating (and winning some...) drawing competitions. I love the energy of creative processes, but sometimes I get absorbed in elaborating details, this is enhanced by my professional practice as an architect. In my job, drawing is fundamental, and this is the language in which I can express myself best. My method in graphics is to bend towards consciousness, keeping instinctive modeling and expression at the same time.
Artodu: What is you favourite place in Budapest?
Zoltán André: Good question... I really love the Danube running across the city. The districts just by the river are definitely my favourite ones, for example the Ybl bazaar; but I like Újlipótváros with the Margitsziget as well.
Artodu: What was your first experience in connection with Budapest?
Zoltán André: It was still in the old regime... Budapest was the only real city in Hungary, and for me, having grown up in a small rural town, the change of scale was very strange, almost shocking. But there was a nice relative living in Pest who used to invite me over for holidays. I can still remember the beautiful, aged, golden facades; and the images of monumental streets and walls, their atmosphere.
Artodu: Who was the master with the greatest influence on your architectural style?
Zoltán André: Ferenc Cságoly, I started working for him. He is a real intellectual architect; very accomplished, humanistic, many of his buildings were realized.
Artodu: One of your favourite painters is Lyonel Feininger. How has his style impressed you?
Zoltán André: I really love expressionism, and its masters (Matisse is my favourite). I find Feininger’s manner, his architecturally constructed pictures wonderful. Maybe his compositions have had the greatest effect on me, but also his way of using colours.
Artodu: Your work has a completely different aspect as well, teaching. What is it like to stand on the other side, helping architecture students? Do you experience a whole new, fresh vision during tutorials with the new generation?
Zoltán André: I enjoy teaching, and I am intentionally trying to demolish the classical, often rigid relationship between teachers and students. I consider master-pupil relationships a lot more effective, where parties only differ in their achievements and their authority resulting from these. Masters are in great need of fresh, youthful approaches and energy. Establishing a mutually motivating, boosting atmosphere is fundamental in all creative processes.
Artodu: One of your new hobbies is photography. Sometimes you spend half a day to take photos of a rare flower. Does it worth all the trouble?
Zoltán André: This desire originates from childhood experience. We used to go hiking in forests with my father and grandfather, looking for certain flowers and trees. My father was a forest engineer, my grandfather an agronomist, they new nature very well. One can benefit from studying nature, it is very rich in structures and colours. For me, besides a way to relax, it is a great source of inspiration.