Monkey in Paradise

A Norbert Szilagyi Retrospective

Key West Museum of Art & History | Bumpus Gallery

November 1, 2024 - January 26, 2025

Since arriving in Key West in the late 1980s, Norbert Szilagyi’s art has held true to his own idea of what he calls ‘tropical primitivism’.  While crossing mediums from sculpture to high gloss house paint on wood, that very idea has taken different forms while staying unmistakably Norbert over the years.

Originally from Hungary, Nobert’s mother quietly slipped out of their village carrying the young boy and his sister until they reached an Austrian refugee camp.  Before long, they were crossing the Atlantic Ocean bound for a new life.  Passionate about art from a young age, he received a degree in Art History with a minor in Studio Arts from Kent State University.

Norbert’s color palette is high tuned, utilizing heavy outlines and a flattened picture plane that is characteristic of classic folk art but also a post-impressionist ideal.  His decoratively hand-painted frames mark out his island scenes, striking the viewer with playfulness.  With a second look, however, viewers recognize his use of symbolism, love of art history, and intricate depictions of folk stories.

This retrospective showcases his vacillating development and bridges his acclaimed metal sculptures and early paintings with his current body of work.

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