(b. 1874, Budapest, d. 1919, Budapest)


c. 1912
Oil on canvas, 27 x 33 cm
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest

The picture, a small one with a figure, is the most significant composition in Nagy Balogh's series of 40 pictures on navvies. He does not want to depict a single scene but he concludes the general from a sight he often saw. The figure of a worker standing in front of the low horizon is bursting the picture, he becomes timeless and akin to figures in Egyptian frescoes thousands of years before. The painter is trying to arrest the figure in a characteristc and dynamic movement and to make his solid statics a part of an architectural structure. Nagy Balogh cannot have known much of Cézanne's art or the cubists' or the Eights' principles of composition; his figure, controlled and closed, the arrow and the simplified geometrical mass of the earth indicate constructivism. The logical, clear composition dominates a subdued world of colours. The ochre and green of the light blue and the gently sloping landscape, which is hardly disturbed by the glazed browns and blue of shadows, the yellowish jacket of the figure fitting into these surroundings, orangish-pinkish trousers and gentle reflexes are suggestive of a real artistic sensitivity. Reflexes of light, the clothes and the barrow make the atmosphere of the picture peculiar. In this poetic realism, Nagy Balogh's "Navvy" is elevated to the symbol of a man who works in nature and who overcomes it; this symbol culminates in Derkovits' lyric portrayal of workers.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.