Laszlo Hudec - my husband's grandfather - rose to great prominence as an architect in Shanghai from 1918 until the 1940's, having built over 60 public buildings including the Park Hotel and The Grand Theatre, and numerous private residences including the Woo House. His most noted architectural achievement was the Park Hotel (completed in 1934) which was the tallest building outside of North America at the time, the tallest building in Asia until 1963, and the tallest building in Shanghai until the 1980's, and since its completion in the 1930's it has been considered the center of Shanghai for all surveying of the city.
Laszlo was a forward-thinking and innovative designer who combined aesthetics with practicality - and most importantly - he created what his clients asked for.
"L.E. Hudec: Visionary"
by Anne Hudec, SFCA
(Watercolour 18.25" x 12.25")
Background of the Painting:
Laszlo Hudec remains a larger-than-life figure in the Hudec family, and I have been lucky enough to have enjoyed watching family films created by Laszlo, seen many photographs of him or by him, seen numerous drawings and paintings created by his hand, and heard many stories of his life and achievements. Artistically, I have always felt inspired by the fact that I create all of my paintings on the desk that graced Laszlo's library in the family home in Shanghai.
Symbolism in the Painting:
I chose to paint a watercolour in Commemoration of the 120th Anniversary of Laszlo Hudec's Birth that encompassed his most recognizable symbols:
• a portrait of Laszlo Hudec in his 40's (his age at the time of the construction of the Park Hotel - his most famous architectural achievement)
• The Park Hotel as shown in his architectural drawings
• a portion of his name "chop" (seal) that was stamped on his architectural plans
• Laszlo's signature, which I chose to feature prominently, as Laszlo was very aware - as well as successful - at branding his name and his work.
Naming the Painting:
I struggled to name the painting, as I originally wished to title it "L.E. Hudec: Renaissance Man" to try to encompass the many facets of Laszlo Hudec. He was a remarkable man who - besides being a brilliant architect - spoke a dozen languages, was an intellect and theologian as well as a gifted artist, photographer and film-maker. He was politically active as Hungarian Consul for Shanghai, and he was a humanitarian. In this capacity he enabled refugees (many of whom were Jewish) to flee from persecution to North America. In later life Laszlo was one of the select few involved with the excavations and restoration of St. Peter's tomb in the Vatican as well as becoming a University Lecturer in Berkeley California before his untimely death in 1959.
By the time I had completed the watercolour, I had decided instead to name the painting "L.E. Hudec: Visionary" to better reflect the focus on his architecture. The word "visionary" is defined as: "A person of unusually keen foresight" - which succinctly describes Laszlo Hudec and his innovative architectural designs.
In recent years Laszlo Hudec's architectural achievements and brilliance in Shanghai have once again come to light. Many books have been written by scholars from around the world, and his life has further been showcased in the documentaries "The Man Who Changed Shanghai" Directed by Ladislav Kabos, and "The Life of Laszlo Hudec" Directed by Reka Pigniczky.
In Shanghai Laszlo's work has been celebrated in the "Year of Hudec" in 2008, and in January of 2013 it was commemorated with the opening of the Hudec Memorial Hall in the final Hudec family home on Panyu Road.
My husband and I were honoured to be invited as guests by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary to attend the Opening of the Hudec Memorial Hall in Shanghai, China in January of 2013. We were whisked from event to event: a private tour of various Hudec buildings with the Hungarian Consul General staff and a Hungarian film crew, a number of engagements with Hungarian diplomats and Chinese dignitaries, as well as interviews with numerous local and overseas journalists and book authors. It was all quite extraordinary and memorable.
Coverage of the Opening of the Hudec Memorial Hall by icShanghai TV News:
Presentation of a Limited Edition Giclée of "L.E. Hudec: Visionary" painted by Anne Hudec to Ms. Xiaolei Zhang, Deputy Director of the Changning District People's Government of Shanghai for the Hudec Memorial Hall, presented at the roof-top restaurant of the Park Hotel.
Presentation of a Limited Edition Giclée of "L.E. Hudec: Visionary" painted by Anne Hudec to Dr. Gergely Pröhle, Deputy State Secretary of Hungary at a private dinner hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hungary in Shanghai.
Mr. Làszló Kuti, Consulate General of Hungary for Shanghai, Ms. Virag Csejdy, Curator for the Hudec Heritage Project Hungary, Mr. Csaba Sárközi, Assoc. of Hungarian Architects and Dr. Gergely Pröhle, Deputy State Secretary of Hungary.
Further information about Laszlo Hudec can be found at these interesting links:
The Hudec Project: http://www.hudecproject.com/en/news
The Man Who Changed Shanghai: http://www.ladislavhudec.eu/
Trailer for The Man Who Changed Shanghai: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NkVQeMOt8U
The Life of Laszlo Hudec: http://56films.com/the-life-of-laszlo-hudec
University of Victoria Archives: http://library.uvic.ca/spcoll/guides/sc132.html
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