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6/25/2012 9:03:00 AM
The 'Carver of Nature's Flow' -- Csaba Martonyi
“Curvaceous Dune” by Csaba Martonyi.
“Curvaceous Dune” by Csaba Martonyi.
Csaba Martonyi
Csaba Martonyi
By Louise MacDonald
Special to Kudos

Determination, dedication, delicacy -- these three traits sum up the workmanship of Csaba Martonyi, creator of wood sculptures of infinite finesse.

Martonyi has been carving wood since the age of 7 when he made Christmas presents for his family in Budapest, Hungary.

Today, his sculptures of flowers and grasses are among the most labor-intensive works of art produced anywhere by hand.

Martonyi's creed in sculpture is "never to add, only to take away," a method of carving involving the use of small tools and inordinate patience. "Creating a fully dimensional form takes time," he says ruefully.

First he must hollow out the background, leaving sufficient wood to create the figure of a tall plant of gently curving lines. Lastly, he must fashion short struts underneath to hold the figure in place.

He calculates that his first carving took 221 hours to complete.

"I claim no exactitude," he says. "I don't copy the flowers from any particular plant. But the blossoms take as much time as the rest of the plant."

The plant the sculptor portrays is an idealized, elongated model of nature's gently curving stalks and leaves. He smiles mischievously, "I love all things in nature, especially the flowing lines of the female body!"

At a recent Desert Woodcarvers Show of 400 juried submissions, Csabo Martonyi's carving won "Best of Show" in the intermediate group (the judge later averred that his piece would have won first place in the entire exhibition, had it been so entered).

Martonyi's exquisitely honed sense of delicacy has led to his other absorbing passion: photography.

In high school, he was appointed official photographer. He also filled that job in the Navy during his years on the USS Hornet. This training eventually led "fortuitously," he says, to a 30-year career as opthalmic (eye) photographer at the University of Michigan's Department of Opthalmology.

In this capacity, the artist's national and international travels brought him frequently to sites where he was able to photograph rare natural subjects, such as "Curvaceous Dune" shown at the Inaugural Exhibition of the Sedona Area Guild of Artists at the Amara Resort. (Csaba Martonyi is the Founding Vice President of SAGA).

Csaba Martonyi was born in Hungary. In 1951, his family fled on the last train out of Budapest after the Russians put a cordon around the city.

After six years in Bavaria living on charity, his father's request for asylum in the United States was granted and they came to this country to live.

Martonyi's many peregrinations have come to a halt in Sedona where he lives with his wife, Elnajean, and continues his laborious carving as well as his photography.


Louise MacDonald is a free-lance writer in Sedona, AZ. She has been an art reviewer in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD. She is a member of the Northern Arizona Watercolor Society and a volunteer at the Sedona Arts Center and the Sedona Area Guild of Artists.

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