Sunday East magazine, 27 July 2008
Author: László Györke
Artistic path (Exctract)
David Beeri, that is, Károly Pongor Beri has suffered a lot to become a successful, worldwide known and acknowledged painter and graphic artist, who now also has an own gallery.
“I met David Beeri, that is, (Pongor) Beri Károly after 11 years, in the first art camp of Ajak. The painter has gained a worldwide recognition since then, as his pictures are highly rated in West-Europe and the United States as well.” László Györke
He was born in Nyírbéltek in 1951. At the age of three his family moved to Nyírmihálydi. At the age of six he almost lost his eyesight. He was a student of an industrial school, but he did not finish his studies. He tried his hand at music, but due to poverty he also had to give it up. Although his talent could be recognized in his childhood, neither the school, nor the government of the village supported him financially, or morally. He became a tailor, worked a lot at home, even after the daily working hours.
“When on 5 December 1975 I decided — David recalls — that I would become a painter at all costs, I did not imagine the way towards it to be so hard.”
The hardships he encountered could fill the pages of a novel. Just to mention one part of his life, which also strengthened his defiance: when he was already an acknowledged painter abroad (in Paris, in the Main Mayor’s Office in 1985, on the first world exhibition of Romany artists his works were placed on a main location; he also had three exhibitions in Germany), suddenly some silence, an overwhelming silence surrounded him. After his life-work exhibition in Szentendre (1983) he was informed by some reporters that due to a superior command the propagation was stopped. Somebody (or some people), who recognized the power in his paintings, were obviously annoyed by the question: why was it him, who pursued this uniquely new style? He was gradually made silent in Hungary: he could not have exhibitions, nor could he sell his paintings.
Even more, some police officers visited his flat. A fictional accusation was made up: kidnapping. A fictional datasheet was also prepared, together with the falsified signature of his second wife. According to this false accusation, he was member of a sect named “Children of Sunlight”, who kidnap six-year-old children from their families. Because of the continuous persecution, they moved from Debrecen to Cserhágó, but could not hide there, either. He was intended to be put into prison. There was nothing left then, but escaping. They were expecting their second child when they set off to their big journey. A year was spent in camps in Germany; this period was the hell itself.
“When finally we were able to rent a flat abroad, I was working very hard and my paintings were worth enough to be able to buy a flat after returning to Hungary. But this was already after the change of the regime.”
“When I was at last surrounded by peace, we moved back to Debrecen” — he recalls it in the artistic camp. “But it seems that I was a pain in the neck of the officials of artistic life, because (and I can still hear the words echoing in my ears) they ‘encouraged’ me like that: “Give up painting! Or just paint for yourself. You are going to be disqualified”. Needless to say, rejection and disqualification made me even more defiant. I felt some inner urge, the power in myself, which made me not only reject finishing, but continue my way on this path filled with hardships. Today I am only smiling when I meet one coryphaeus on the street, saying hello to them, who even turn their heads. But that is enough now, let’s talk about something else now.”
He changed his name, although the family name (Beri) remained in the form of “Beeri”, seeming a name of the Bible, as it appears in the first and second book of Moses (Böeri). The meaning of the Hebrew word is: ‘the well of God’. It is not only an artistic pseudonym, however, as it is also included in his official documents like that; what is more: his eight children also use this name. One of the possibly greatest changes in his life was that a permanent exhibition in Debrecen was opened three years ago, displaying his works, housed by the Mysticism Gallery at 6-8 Bethlen street. Besides his own works, of course, the gallery houses temporary exhibitions as well. Several books and albums were published about him and his works: A Mystical Artist – David Beeri (author: Ágoston Székelyhidi, art historian, published in Hungarian, English, German, and Russian language); Irradiation of the Spiritual Light (Ferenc Vitéz); Graphics of David Beeri (by Ágoston Székelyhidi in Hungarian, English, German and Russian language).
“I returned from Florida not long ago” — he says. “I had several exhibitions in the last few years in Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan and several countries of West-Europe. Now I am planning to continue my journey to the East, namely to Dubai, where 40-50 of my paintings are planned to be exhibited from the end of September for three months. As it is reported, there is a huge interest in it already”.
David Beeri and his wife have had eight healthy children. The oldest one, named Szilvia, was born in August 1986 and is going to tie the knot this August. Dávid, the first boy is already married, working in the bank sector. The smallest child, Lídia is going to start the first class of school this year, she is an excellent pianist. Their father is proud of all of them, as they are all talented and gifted for music and fine arts.