George Baloghy was born in Budapest in 1950 and emigrated as a child refugee to New Zealand in 1957. While studying for his Bachelor of Fine Arts at Elam in Auckland, Baloghy began exploring the streets of central Auckland, taking pictures of building facades with a borrowed camera. Baloghy’s interest in the city and suburbia has continued throughout his career, and his depictions of city landscapes, often painted with a quirky and ironic eye, can now be considered synonymous with Auckland’s visual identity.
Baloghy lives and works in Auckland and Hahei Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula. He is considered one of the foremost realist artists in New Zealand. His work is included in the curricula of University Art History Programmes and is represented in many public art collections throughout the country.
Baloghy’s works often include pastiches and historical references to artists such as Canaletto, a painter who also “chronicled” his city. Baloghy’s paintings feature a quiet humour and focus on all details of the landscape, from the spectacular to the mundane. As the artist himself says, ‘I find visual beauty in things like asphalt or cars.’
Baloghy’s realism is unique in that it is not photographic likeness, but as he himself describes it, an ‘enhanced realism’. The background detail is sharper than its reality and the overall effect is slightly disconcerting. This is achieved by the subtle editing of elements within the composition, so that distant hills might be brought closer, or the middle distance completely erased. Nevertheless the scenes essentially remain faithful to real life and are usually instantly recognisable.
Baloghy’s scrupulous attention to detail challenges the viewer to engage with and explore the paintings, rather than merely glancing at mimetic reproductions of the landscape.