Hugo Holesch: Reminiscing About my Father


Painter and his son, Hugo

Father came into the world in 1910 in what was then Hungary, but would subsequently, following WW1 and the Treaty of Versailles become part of Czechoslovakia. What might have otherwise been an idyllic childhood in the picturesque Lower Tatra Mountains was overshadowed by these historical upheavals. And perhaps it was by way of escape from their aftermath that father entertained two dreams in his youth: to travel the world, and to become an artist. As fortune would have it father would realise both. As a young man he would travel to live and work in such exotic places as Pekin, the Phillipine Highlands among the headhunters, and the jungles of Bali. Later, after marrying the well-known Australian pianist, Joyce Greer, it would be in the great centres of the Western world, London, Paris, and New York among others. His work would be included in numerous collections, as well as museums, would be sold in innumerable galleries, and would receive international awards. He would never settle; a fact I believe reflected in his horse paintings for which he is best known. One’s first impression of these paintings might be of a lyrical celebration of freedom, of freedom of movement. On closer consideration however they reveal a tantalising sense of movement unresolved, of wistfulness, of yearning even, for ever unrequited. The horses one feels are as if suspended in space and time. They are indeed free, as free as clouds, but they will never touch ground.

And although he would repeatedly return to his native land, and die in Budapest in 1983, father, great adventurer and world traveller though he was, would never journey the few extra miles north to his home town, Banska Bystrica and those never to be forgotten mountains. Perhaps he was subject to that confusion of time and place, whereby under the albeit subconscious delusion of preserving them from the ravages of the former we forego the bitter-sweet experience of revisiting childhood haunts. Perhaps throughout his seemingly endless wandering, without quite realising it, father was ever on a quest for what he did not at the end of his life want to confirm as long since gone, that lost world of perceived order and innocence of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire of his early boyhood.

Hugo Holesch