When he was fourteen Rozsda did his first painting- a copy of Gainsborough’s Blue Boy, in which he replaced the face with a breast. That same year, he began to practice photography professionally. After receiving his high school diploma, he worked on his painting technique at the free school of Aba-Novàk and held a successful exhibition in 1936 at the Tarnas Gallery in Budapest. He drew every day and everywhere, even while riding the bus. His drawing style was described as “light modernism.” In 1939 his amazement upon hearing Béla Bartók and Bartók’s wife interpret the “Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion” at the Budapest Opera proved revelatory. “That is when I understood that I was not my own contemporary!” he exclaimed. Seeking to transfer Bartók’s polytohalism into painting, he drew broken lines, scratchings, streaks in pen or brush and crushed lines. his fantastic architectures, amalgams of human bodies and alphabets made up of disarticulated women, were comparable to graphic sonatinas. Rozsda finally moved to Paris, where he shared a studio on Rue Schloecher with his sculptor friend Lajos Bartas. he frequented the Galerie Jeanne-Bucher, and probably met Max Ernst and Tanguy there. During the Occupation, in March 1943, he was forced to leave Paris in haste to evade the Vichy police. In Budapest, he founded, with Imre Pan, the Europai Liskola (European School) movement- a group of artists and writers who met in his studio. He collaborated on several group exhibitions and had a one-man show in 1948, just before the European School broke up. Under the Communist regime, which authorized only social realism, Rozsda had a very hard time obtaining painting materials, and made his living illustrating covers for children’s books.
After the failure of the Hungarian uprising in 1956, Rozsda went into permanent exile in Paris. He presented his painting to Simone Collinet, who showed them in February and March at Galerie Furstenberg, with a catalog by André Breton in which he wrote: “Here the forces of death and love vie with one another; the most irresistible gleam is sought on all sides beneath the magma of blackened leaves and destroyed wings.”
The paintings of his maturity represent and exploded reality, in which the colored fragments seems to merge randomly, accumulate, or pile up on the surface of the canvas without leaving any interstices; even the whites act as combining elements and contribute to the impression of a full yet fragmented space. In 1964 Rozsda received the William Copley Foundation prize in California, awarded by a jury that included Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst. In 1979, after becoming a French citizen, he moved into the Bateau-Lavoir building in Montmartre.
Born 1913 in Mohacs, Hungary; died 1999 in Paris.