Ernie left his homeland of Hungary at the age of
18 as a refugee and spent two years in Austria with his family before migrating
to Sydney Australia. As a child, growing up in a landlocked country under the
oppressive communist regime, he had resigned himself to the probability that he
would never see the sea.
In a wonderful twist of irony, today he has made
his home on Sydney’s northern beaches, regularly travels to Europe and North
America and finds much of his inspiration from the stunning landscapes he
encounters on three different continents.
Ernie Gerzabek’s background as an architect adds
an edge to his paintings, which reflect the love of nature in a unique way. His
use of invigorating colour and patterns reflects his desire to create works that
inspire optimism, reflect the vitality of the wilderness and provide a
meaningful experience for the viewer. “For me, the colours are stimulating” he
explains. “I like bright optimistic colours that can translate into the thrill
of being alive.” Ernie sees colour as both an emotional and visual tool and he
aims to choose those that best express his feelings towards his subject matter.
Dots and lines form a significant part of Ernie’s
paintings and he maintains they are the basic elements of visual expression as a
whole. “Dots allow different colours to be put side by side and then those
colours blend together in your eye (or more accurately in your mind), producing
a new colour.”
When considering which artists inspire him, Ernie
says he most admires Van Gogh’s intensity and use of colour to stir up emotions,
Paul Klee’s sensitive insight into our inner beings, Kandinsky’s exuberance and
sense of composition and Picasso’s brave inventiveness. As for Australian
artists, he loves John Olsen’s playful and imaginative expression, Sydney
Nolan’s “cutting to the chase”, Fred Williams’ ability to abstract the essential
elements of a landscape, and last but not least, Aboriginal Emily Kngwarreye’s
instinctive mastery of colour, structure and connection to Country.
Ernie loves the purity and intensity of abstract
art. “I look at abstraction as the process of reducing and distilling the
essential elements from a landscape, for example the colours, rhythm, mood and
feel of the place,” he says. Getting rid of unnecessary detail and extracting
the most important features of a scene what really matters, according to Ernie.
“I try to go beyond the hillside, sunshine, vines, grapes and wine to find the
final product, the concentrated spirit, the brandy” he illustrates.
Ernie believes this ‘filtering’ process is
well-suited to the subject matter of the natural world. “Wilderness by its
nature is untamed, overwhelming, and awe-inspiring – unless simplified, it is
beyond our comprehension to take it all in,” he says. According to Ernie,
getting down to the basics is not as easy as it might seem, and not many do it
well. “Good abstraction leapfrogs the trivial and bypasses the intermediary to
convey information directly,” he states. “Bad abstraction is contrived and
forced and can very easily become clichéd.”
While selling paintings naturally has its
benefits, Ernie says the real achievement comes when his viewers not only find
his work attractive, but also find it speaks to them. “My main aim in being an
artist is to produce art that is meaningful to people,” he says.