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Interestings Literature Farewell to an Artist: Kálmán Opré

Farewell to an Artist: Kálmán Opré

Opré Kálmán 1.Kálmán Opré
(Szeged, 1924 – Vancouver, 2010)

He passed away peacefully on October 20th, 2010, with his wife Betty, daughter Karen, son John, and his five grandchildren, Sean, Lisa, Nyree, Alyssa and Kalman, at his side.

Opré 2.Kálmán was a man of many talents: he was graphic artist, publisher, museum designer, and consultant in cultural resource management, among others.
But first and foremost, he was an artist, a creator of beauty in all its forms: painting, drawing and sculpture.

He was born in Szeged, a place he loved, where his talent first bourgeoned. As a teenager, he was fortunate enough to work – albeit in a minor capacity – on the “Heroes’ Gate” (Hősök kapuja) fresco in Szeged, created by the famous artist Vilmos Aba-Novák. As he recalled: ”I am forever indebted for the innumerable rich and happy experiences to the personalities of my young student days in Szeged, whos influence stayed with me for a lifetime, and filled me with the love of art and a spiritual richness, like the opportunity to observe the creative genious of Aba-Novák.”  
After WW II, Kálmán was a refugee in Austria, where he joined the French occupational forces. In 1949 he emigrated to Canada and settled in Vancouver. At first, he worked as graphic artist at a printig shop, then established his own business.

Opré ill. 3.In 1983, he won the National Museum, Canada competition for the Conceptual Planning and Development Study for the B.C. Museum of Mining at Britannia Beach. He also painted 12 watercolours of North Vancouver’s Edgemont Village, which he donated to North Vancouver District. Some of them are hung in the offices at Municipal Hall.

Opré 4.In 1989 he began teaching as part of North Vancouver’s Continuing Education Program, and also in West Vancouver for the Recreation Commission. Later, with other North Shore artists he founded the Coast Art Trust (CAT), an association of senior professional visual artists in B.C.
He had close to 50 exhibitions in Vancouver and its environs.
But he never forgot his Hungarian heritage. On the 50th anniversary of the      1956 Hungarian Revolution, the Hungarian Cultural Society of Vancouver held a commemoration. To capture the human drama of Hungary’s Revolution and its valiant people, Kálmán created images from books and films published about the Revolution, in an audio-visual presentation: “Remember 1956”. He also captured the spirit of the young freedom fighters, “The Kids of Pest” (Pesti srácok) in this touching drawing.

Only his body has departed – his name and spirit will live on in his art and in our memories.

Éva Kossuth

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