Bela Petheo was born in 1934 in Budapest, Hungary where he earned a Master's degree in art history from Eotvos Lorant University followed by an assistantship at the Museum of Fine Arts under Andrew Pigler, (Barockthemen). In 1957 he escaped the brutal Soviet occupation. While in Vienna, Austria, he was awarded a Rockefeller scholarship to study simultaneously at Karl Lueger University and the Academy of Fine Arts under Albert Paris Gutersloh. He also had brief contact with Oskar Kokoschka's “School of Seeing” at Salzburg. In 1959 he immigrated to the United States with just $32.00 to his name.
In 1963 he received his M.F.A. degree from the University of Chicago where he studied under Joshua C. Taylor and Max Kahn. In 1966, after teaching Chicago and Cedar Falls (Iowa), he joined the Art Department of St. John's University at Collegeville, Minnesota where he retired in 1997 as Professor Emeritus.
In 1970, Petheo married Kathleen Benko. Their two daughters Kristine and Elizabeth were born in 1974 and 1978 respectively. The artist resides in St. Cloud, Minnesota where he maintains his painting studio.
Style and Subject Matter, Technique
The artist's vision of the world via observation and imagination doesn't readily fit within any convention or category. His strong academic realistic foundation is modified by a Kokoschka-type Austrian Expressionism with lessons learned from French Impressionism. There is also a Hopper-type surrealism in his work, which, together with his bold presentation established his unique voice. His subject and body of work encompasses all the main branches of Western painting such as landscape, self-portrait, portraits, still lifes, figurative works as well as illustrative-allegorical works.
Techniques include simple pencil drawings and water based media, but the artist works primarily in oils.
Laszlo Fulop, Botond Igyarto, Bela Petheo and Agnes Fulop ( Sept.3., 2008)
For more information, art works, exhibits and photos visit this website: www.belapetheo.com