His early photographs are usually labelled "documentarist", but this word does not exactly fit what he was doing. When photographing Budapest tram stops, and later electricity transmis­sion wires, he was really producing his own kind of portraits. In both of these series he picked out from a world normally looked on as grey and everyday the individual, the details and per­sonalities important and interesting in their own right. In 1983, at the Young Artists' Festival, he set up a temporary photographic studio in the Budapest's Small Stadium, to where he in­vited festival visitors to have their portraits taken. Nearly two hundred pictures were produced in an identical way: the visitors entered the completely dark room, curious as to what was going to happen, and were surprised by a sudden photographic flash. The following year, he continued with the series, "Long Live the First of May!". In front of a white canvas stretched between the trees of City Park, he photographed people from the Mayday crowd with a Polaroid camera, presented them with the result, and then photographed them again with the picture they had by then signed, and thus accepted. It was not Andy Warhol's idea of "everybody will be famous for 15 minutes" that these pictures express so much as the basic view of Diana Arbus, a view which embraces an inter­est in extremes, but whose real, fundamental characteristic is identification with the world of the "humiliated and depressed", or if you like the identification with the human condition. These works testify to the same basic philosophy by which Richard Avedon photographed his ageing self or his father in various stages of dying. It is the essential basic philosophy for achieving a genuine, durable portrait, or in Gyorgy Toth's case, a body portrait.

In the wake of artists such as Helmut Newton, Robert Mapplethorpe, Arturo Toscanini, and of so many million nude pictures, could it nonetheless be possible, could it be worthwhile, to photograph nudes? And could it be possible, could it be worthwhile, to attempt it in Hungary, isolated from contemporary movements, hypocritical in its morals, and with public taste so restricted? Indeed, this was perhaps the very situation where it was possible and worthwhile. Just as the pictures of Avedon, Mapplethorpe, Toscanini proved that it was possible to photograph the most naked truth without a trace of eroticism, that complete impersonality arises where things are reduced to the most intimate details, Toth's work convinces the viewer of the exact opposite: that absolute impersonality and detachment can also give a special tension to a picture or series of pictures. Through the right model and a particular set of movements, the photographer can convey messages, human conditions and conflicts which cannot be put over by other means. The body and its movements carry every­thing that the face and the gaze do. These pictures make clear to their viewers Toth's concept of photography expressed in his words: "the beauty of the female form, the inscrutability of the soul of woman, and their various representations are the means by which I can really say what is within me."

Gallery Erdész & Design and Victor L. Menshikov