When speaking about some of his paintings, Gunther Gerzso would describe them as a "Parent Painting." By this he meant that the image had stirred him to make others with similar iconography and emotional content; in the interim, the image would become part of his broadening personal visual vocabulary. Although sometimes the images appeared spontaneously, without his having thought first about them, like Paisaje de Grecia, 1959, (see lot 30) the source of 36 works that later came to be known as his "Greek Period," more often, these "Parent Paintings" were the result of what seemed like an endless struggle. Gerzso never quite knew how he had arrived at these images, although he understood that each was the ultimate product of an intuitive search. Instinctively, he sensed a conflict brewing within him, although he could not quite grasp where it came from, what it meant, or what it looked like. Sometimes he joked that if only he could get it out of his head and through his arm, it would simplify his life. But he knew better. Gerzso described this struggle as Schmertz, the German word for pain or feeling, "a kind of positive masochism," he would elaborate--a growing pain. Once the struggle was over, however, he knew there would be a sense of relief and mastery--relief from the tension and mastery over conflict. These comforting feelings, he soon learned, were temporary. It was only a matter of time before a new conflict would arise and the struggle would begin again.
Presencia, 1962, was created during the second consecutive year in which Gerzso produced several "Parent Paintings," although he only realized it years later. The painting offers an early view of his need for a rapprochement with his subject, the desire and a beckoning need to come near combined with a fear holding him back. This conflict imbues the image with its emotional content. The primarily orange composition is split into halves. First, the warm color lures the viewer, followed by the suggested softness of the red inner workings of the split. Once the viewer's eye is focused, the composition begins to make better, albeit ambiguous sense. Rather than separating naturally, the borders appear unevenly sliced in the center and evenly cut at the bottom, allowing a partial view of what is behind the orange wall. Gerzso's conflict becomes apparent: he is tempted to see what lies behind the orange wall but in the end would rather not.
Over time, feeling more at ease with the image, Gerzso began experimenting, taking more chances with it in successive works. The denouement of the conflict took place two years later, in 1964, when he produced Circe. Thereafter, feeling he had conquered this world, he never stopped recreating new variations, although after producing Circe, it all became play.
Salomon Grimberg, Dallas, Texas, March 29, 2008.