August’s Artist Interview: André Peterdi

Posted on 5.8.2014

The artist André Peterdi (b. 1978) was born in Hanko and lives in Turku. He was 15 years old, when he moved to Budapest. The son of a Hungarian father and a Finnish-Swedish mother lived with his grandmother for a year in a small apartment.

“My father had artists and writers in the family. My grandmother was a photographer, who painted for a hobby, and we painted together in Budapest”, Peterdi says.

Budapest is where Peterdi first became acquainted with oil painting.

“There was something especially noble and valuable in the colour substances themselves: the old masters had painted with the very same substances. We didn’t have odourless turpentine, so we had to keep the windows open, often even when it was cold. My grandmother had a convincing library of art books that I paged through with enthusiasm. At the time I used to imitate Dutch landscape paintings”, Peterdi remembers.

In Budapest Peterdi took private classes from an artist, and once a week he visited the drawing class in the Fine Arts Academy.

”In Hungary I first came in touch with charcoal as well. I’m still very fond of it. I’m interested in how you can wipe away traces of charcoal – that you can sort of make your mark by negation”, Peterdi says.

”Returning to Finland felt strange: while living in Budapest I often visited museums to see old art. In the small town of Hanko life was suddenly totally different and it wasn’t possible to experience all things that you could experience in Budapest. So when in Helsinki I always visited Ateneum to see paintings from the Golden Age painters. I don’t remember much about the time after Budapest. I went to the army and worked for a couple of years in a Christmas decoration firm”, Peterdi says.

After working at the Christmas decoration factory, Peterdi studied graphic design. He was interested in painting and so he started his studies in 2002 at Turku Drawing School.

Työhuoneen lattia saa osansa maalista.

”The time of my studies was restless and confusing. I couldn’t get a firm grip of anything, for which I myself was completely to blame. It was mainly a time of experimenting. Among others, the guidance of Anu Tuomi, who then worked as teacher of painting, I have later realized the importance of base light in order to achieve a strong intensity of colour. Working is still extremely difficult all the time. I never get to think ’Now I can do this’. I constantly search for new ways of seeing and experiencing things”, Peterdi says.

Since 2012 Peterdi has been working in Barker, Turku, and he thinks that a working space of one’s own is important.

“This is the first working room that is completely in my own use. A space of one’s own is of absolute importance for working on paintings. The presence of others makes me feel restless and makes the personal working process more difficult, and I don’t like to show unfinished works to anyone”, Peterdi says.

Peterdi paints abstract paintings that are based on his personal experiences and thoughts about different places and situations. For instance, Peterdi has painted works based on a roadtrip he made in Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia in the summer 2013.

“Concrete things serve as starting points for my work. I think things through representation. I don’t want to imitate forms or refer clearly to things, but if I have done a painting based on a certain landscape, I want to mention it in the name of the work, so that the viewer knows, which landscape has guided my work”, Peterdi says.

”I relate intuitively to the use of colour. For instance, Slovenia and Eastern Europe, in my view have a certain brown, red – even musty colour. In painting I always consider carefully every colour and brushstroke. In recent years I have also been particularly interested in transparency and the volume of colour substance”, Peterdi says.

Peterdi pays attention to colours also on his travels.

”Tourist photos are at times peculiar: Now that taking photographs has been banalized, people often take pictures of situations in order to document the experience through the medium. During my Hungary-Slovenia-Croatia -roadtrip I took pictures of doors and walls with my phone in order to study colour. In that environment and light the colours were naturally different from Finland. But the cell phone photos had lost all the colour effects that had fascinated me on spot”, Peterdi ponders.

For Peterdi everything that has to do with nature is inspiring, and he spends a lot of time making observations about nature and environment.

”I’ve noticed that I look at things differently when I attune into a state where I make myself conscious that I’m looking at something. Perceiving my surroundings in this way is for me a part of living, I don’t do it solely for artistic purposes”, Peterdi describes.

Peterdi likes travelling and living abroad, because foreign surroundings situate him in a new way in relation to the environment. Travelling helps him to tune in to perception at home as well.

”When I come home from my travels, I locate myself differently into my home and think: oh, it’s like this here”, Peterdi says.

Peterdi also seeks inspiration to his works from pictures; from Late Gothic paintings as well as from Google.

”I use a lot of Google Earth and Google image search, and I’ve been painting basing on them the last four years. Through image search you can for example examine what kind of an image people may have about Las Vegas. In Late Gothic paintings I have looked at colour surfaces: I feel that the painters of the painting guilds of that time have understood something specific about colours when they applied them in thin layers on top of each other. I can’t describe precisely what this specific thing is, but I guess it has something to do with a different notion of the perceived form and local colour. As a formalist I look at the compositions of altarpieces and their ‘deliciously’ varying shades of colour”, Peterdi says.

When he starts painting Peterdi always paints a work from start to beginning. Working on one painting usually takes him one to four weeks.

“It’s always interesting to set out with a new painting. I don’t paint my works initially for exhibitions. I just try to make works that answer to my thoughts about their motives.”

André Peterdi’s exhibition näyttely Vista is on display in Galleria Joella 14.8.–1.9.2014. The opening is on Wednesday 13.8. at 6-8pm. At the Night of the Arts you can visit the exhibition until 10pm.

Artist’s homepages.

Works in Turku Artoteque.

Text: Enni Niemelä

Pictures: Eveliina Tammi and Jenna Suomalainen

Translated by Pirkko Holmberg

In honour of Turku Artists Association’s 90-years-jubilee the association presents one of its members per month throughout the whole year. Artists Association’s apprentice Enni Niemelä interviewed the members in year 2013. The interviews are published the first Tuesday of every month on Turku Artists Association’s webpages and on Facebook.