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Name of the exhibit: Man Drowns Himself in Oil / Devil Dance (Painting)
Submitted by: Sarah Bleiwas and family
Date of origin: November 1979
Origin of the object: This is a painting by Zoltan Haydu. It was painted in Toronto, Canada in 1979, 34 years after the artist survived the Holocaust in Hungary.
Description: Zoltan Haydu (Hajdu Zoltán) was born on November 22nd, 1926 in Hajdunánás, Hungary. After narrowly escaping death first in the forced labour camps and later in Budapest, he found shelter in the Swiss Consulate. The painting reflects the personal history of Zoltan’s family, and touches on evils of both the past and present.
In the top circle of the painting is Zoltan’s mother, Elizabeth, and to her left is Zoltan’s sister, Marta, and brother, George. George was beaten to death in a forced labour camp in ~1942 at the age of 22. Marta and Elizabeth were both taken to Auschwitz in 1944. Marta insisted on staying with her mother, and they were killed together in the gas chambers the day after arriving at Auschwitz. Marta was 19. She is also depicted being pulled into the fire by Hitler.
In the centre of the top circle is Zoltan’s father, Henrik, portrayed as an educated shepherd. Henrik died in March 1944 of natural causes. To the right is Zoltan with his wife (Susan Gál/Haydu and young daughter (Agnes Haydu/Bleiwas) when they first came to Canada as refugees in April 1957.
In the central circle is Zoltan’s sister Clara, holding her infant son. Clara and her young son survived on a labour camp where Clara was a translator. They moved to Israel in 1958. Clara’s son as an adult is portrayed in an Israeli orange grove.
Voyage to Ottawa: Zoltan Haydu arrived in Toronto, Canada as a refugee in April 1957 with his wife (Susan Gál/Haydu), and young daughter (Agnes Haydu/Bleiwas). Zoltan’s granddaughter (Sarah Bleiwas) brought the painting from Toronto to Ottawa.
See additional information about this painting here: Zoltan Haydu Painting EXPLAINED