Canberra artist Tommy Balogh was sounding elated on Friday afternoon as he prepared to unveil his stunning new exhibition, Dark Side of the Moon, in Queanbeyan this weekend.
"Oh, it's so exciting, I'm so full of adrenaline," he said, with a laugh.
"I swear to God, I was driving this morning and I thought, 'This is how a parachutist must feel'."
The sought-after artist has come a long way, from his humble beginnings turning out work from, of all places, the City West underground car park, to seeing his pieces become highly collectable, attracting national and international interest. In terms of price alone, his artwork has increased in value by up to 500 per cent since 2017. One of his larger works is the 12-metre, luminous Voyage piece that was installed at the Nishi gallery in New Acton.
The Budapest-born, Canberra-raised artist boasts a unique style, painting with light-reactive media, so the artworks change colour and form with the light.
"I like to think of them as these windows into a different kind of consciousness. It's a bit New Age-y, I get it," he said, with a laugh.
"But they're more than paintings. When they change with light, they become more three-dimensional, so they start to pulse in and out of the sculptural realm as well, which makes it interesting."
Tommy's exhibition this weekend is at the Canberra area's largest video production studio, Digital Content Studios in Queanbeyan.
The work was the product of hunkering down during the height of the pandemic last year, when he and partner Lin were at home in Franklin, enjoying the birth of their second child. They were cocooned and there were fewer distractions.
"I could actually paint more, and more vigorously," he said.
"I also started to hit Instagram a lot harder and attracted this Hong Kong gallery and they said, 'Hey, we'd love to do something with you. We saw some of the pieces you do and we'd love to collaborate with you and consign some artworks'. Instagram works!
The pandemic showed him "if you didn't adapt, you didn't survive".
"It actually brought out the best. The challenge of the whole thing took me to another level," he said.
Tommy called the exhibition Dark Side of the Moon because he was listening to the Pink Floyd album while he was painting, but it also alluded to something more profound during the pandemic.
"It just resonated with me about the whole change in the world," he said.
"And there's something about, even though you are emphasising the dark side of the moon, the darkness, there's also light as well. So the exhibition was really about finding that light in the darkness."
Tommy, 36, moved as a child from Hungary to Canberra with his parents, who also had humble beginnings but worked hard to get ahead. His father Ferenc became a mathematician at the Australian National University and his mother Elena rose through the ranks of the National Library and is now an assistant director with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Tommy attended Urambi Primary and Kambah High schools and eventually chose to become an artist rather than a scientist.
He was offered a unique space to work while commissioned to do a piece live for Art, Not Apart in New Acton in 2015.
"And I was painting the work and I met a very unusual and very cool guy with a dog and, my God, what a conversation we had. We were talking for about an hour," Tommy remembered.
The man later returned to the exhibition. With his dog. Called Susie.
"He said, 'Mate, I like what you're doing, you're doing some ambitious stuff' and basically he said, 'I've got a space for you at the City West car park. I've got a bit of a vacant space there and I'd love you to do some art there'," Tommy said.
"It was a very interesting place. It was actually the first time I realised, 'I am an underground artist'."
Now dad to two daughters, Charlie, 2, and Mira, 10 months, and with a growing following around the world, Tommy is coming into his own.
"I want people to enjoy the beautiful energy I've put into these works, because these works are me," he said.
- Exhibition: Tommy Balogh's Dark Side of the Moon
- WHERE: DCS Studios, 11 Bedford Street, Queanbeyan West
- WHEN: Saturday, February 27 10am to 5pm , Sunday, February 28 10am to 4pm
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