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One character, thousands of stories

Botond Részegh’s exhibit “Night­fall,” which is on dis­play at Northeastern’s Gallery 360 until March 9, tells a story.

It cen­ters on a main char­acter, former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodor­kovsky, who was impris­oned for 10 years on embez­zle­ment and tax fraud charges. But it also rep­re­sents the count­less other polit­ical pris­oners whose sto­ries are unknown.

“This is about freedom,” said Részegh, a Romanian-​​born graphic artist and Northeastern’s cur­rent artist-​​in-​​residence. “This is about how we choose our own path.”

The 30-​​piece exhibit includes sketches and acrylic on paper. It began in 2011 as a series on Daedalus, the father of Icarus in Greek mythology. But when he heard Khodorkovsky’s story, he decided to change his focus, an easy decision.

“This is a con­tem­po­rary story that is absolutely close to my soul,” explained Részegh. “It was not hard to change the sub­ject of the series because this kind of human con­di­tion is close to me. For me it was absolutely interesting.”

Khodor­kovsky is a Russian busi­nessman who was arrested in 2003 and served 10 years in prison on fraud, embez­zle­ment, and money laun­dering charges. Many in the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity believe his incar­cer­a­tion was polit­i­cally motivated.

Részegh knows some­thing about the lack of freedom. Részegh was 12 years old when Romanian com­mu­nist dic­tator Nicolae Ceaus­escu was assas­si­nated in 1989, bringing an end to com­mu­nist rule there.

“I was marked by that era and so were a lot of my friends who are writers and poets,” Részegh noted.

He fin­ished many of the exhibit’s pieces late last year, noting that the amount of time he spends on any given painting is nothing com­pared to the hours he logs while prac­ticing. It could take him 10 hours to pre­pare for a piece that he could com­plete in a couple minutes.

In addi­tion to the Gallery 360 exhibit, Részegh’s month-​​long res­i­dency at North­eastern includes another public event taking place Friday after­noon in which he will have a con­ver­sa­tion with Albert László Barabási, the newly installed Robert Gray Dodge Pro­fessor of Net­work Sci­ence at North­eastern. The two became friends in 2007 when Részegh illus­trated one of Barabási’s books, and the talk is expected to touch on the extent to which the friend­ship between sci­en­tists and artists influ­ences their inquiry.

The event, which Részegh described as a “con­ver­sa­tion between friends,” will take place on Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the Vis­itor Center.

He noted that he is grateful to Barabási, asso­ciate pro­fessor Isabel Meirelles, and campus curator Bruce Ployer for the oppor­tu­nity to show­case his work at Gallery 360, a 1,000-square-foot space located in the cor­ridor between Ell Hall and the Curry Stu­dent Center.

Részegh’s res­i­dency also includes inter­acting with art stu­dents in the Art + Design depart­ment and offering a work­shop in the class of pro­fessor Mira Cantor about printing techniques.

By Joe O’Connell on News@Northeastern

Photo by Brooks Canaday