The Guardian has reported the death of Hungarian artist Zsuzsi Roboz at age 82. Born in Budapest as the daughter of Imre Roboz the manager of the Vígszinház theatre, Zsuzsi and her mother were forced to flee Hungary in 1947 after the end of World War II when Russian soldiers killed her father. After a brief stint in France, Roboz arrived in London and enrolled in the Royal Acadamy where she developed her gifts as a portraitist. In 1954 she moved to Italy and studied for a year under Italian painter Pietro Annigoni to further hone her skills. After returning to London she concentrated on portrait commissions generally within the familiar milieus of her childhood, the theatres and concert halls. Her work currently hangs in the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate. Her lithographs in the Tate offer a behind the scenes look at tired performers in intimate and somewhat unflattering circumstances, very much in a similar vein to the works of French artist Toulouse Lautrec.
The Guardian offers an anecdote regarding her first marriage that helps explain how this Hungarian firebrand was able to captivate London society,
She was part of a lively London bohemian scene. She made a brief marriage, in 1953, to an illustrator, Ley Kenyon, who made the mistake of thinking that she would be entirely obedient to his wishes. He discovered his mistake, as she later gleefully recalled, one night when he came home late from the pub. He went to the bathroom, and Zsuzsi, who had already packed her bags, locked him in and departed.
In an interview with George Isaaman in the Camden Journal Roboz talked about her creative process when doing a portrait,
I encourage the sitter to choose the composer, I find this helps to put them at ease and encourages them to retreat into their own inner world…These portraits are not only my response to their physical appearance, but also their characters. In general, I only received positive responses. I simply try to do the best I can. If I do that, then I am satisfied.
In 2011 she publishe dth ebook Face to Face which consisted of portraits of 30 contemporary writers. An inteview with Roboz about the project.