The Test of Time

Celebrating a two-decade-long professional relationship, gallerist Martin Browne and artist Ildiko Kovacs
tell us the single most important thing about their relationship that has given it longevity.

M A R T I N  B R O W N E

“Her complete focus and dedication…” 

Looking at this photo [above], taken on the opening day of Ildiko Kovacs’ first exhibition with my gallery, September 11, 2001, I am struck by the thought that neither of us had any conception of how the world, within hours, would be irrevocably changed. In the 21 years since, there have been so many other changes. Yet through all these years there has been one constant – Ildiko’s complete focus and dedication to the exploration of her art practice.

In Ildiko’s practice, a painting is never really finished but rather she judges it completed at a stage of its creation where she is happy to release it into the world. I’m always curious as to what is happening in her studio and there have been more than a few occasions where she has sent me images of a breathtakingly painting, followed by a brief SMS to say ‘It’s gone now’. Yet I know that such is her genius, she will conjure another even more arresting image from the ruins of the painting that had existed before. I am in awe of her extraordinary talent. And to cap it all off, she is the warmest, most wonderful person you could ever wish to meet.

Featured Image: Martin Browne (left) and Ildiko Kovacs (right) in 2001. Courtesy: the artist and Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney.

I L D I K O  K O V A C S 

“His respect…” 

I remember phoning Martin Browne Fine Art (as it was called back then) with no real introduction and cutting straight to the chase. I asked Martin if he would like to show my work. He pencilled in a date on our first meeting. That was in 2000.

Martin’s subtle gestures, rarely spoken, are always felt. His perceptive nature and my intuitive one have made for good chemistry. His astuteness combined with his promptness leaves no floating uncertainties.

I remember many hot summer days working away in my studio, throwing buckets of turps and reworking a painting over and over. At times I’d send an image to Martin of a work in progress, and he would always be there with a quick response. As artists we walk a kind of tight rope finding that balance of doing the work and how we sit in the world outside. Martin makes way for the studio, he clears the space. My experience of the artist and gallery relationship, over more than two decades with Martin, has allowed me the freedom to work. In turn I feel gratitude. As my late Hungarian mother said:  ‘Darling, he is one in a million’.

Featured Image: Ildiko Kovacs, Cauldron, 2021. Oil paint on plywood, 160 x 150cm. Courtesy: the artist and Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney.

This article was originally published in Art Collector issue 103, January – March 2023. 


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