The Monkey is Busy
My name is Frederica Henrieta Hegedus and I paint and design jewelry. I come from the city of Košice in Slovakia, which is where I was born, however, I feel like a citizen of the Earth. The whole Earth is my true home. I grew up under socialism, which condemned and suppressed religion and promoted atheism. It was not so bad because it saved me from uncompromising religious education without the possibility of choosing my own direction.
Ever since I can remember, I have had a worldview and opinions that were different to my surroundings. At kindergarten, I wondered whether other people saw grass as green and the sky as blue like me. I have never been able to accept that there is an infinitely great soul inside our bodies. As a child I was worried about how something so extensive and, in my view, endless is able to fit into such a small person as myself. I felt that my little body was in a soul that spreads all around, just concentrating its attention on me and thus creating a false feeling that this body was me. You can imagine how unsettled my family was when I tried to tell them. Over time, I gave up, but to this day I have had no reason to change my mind.
Art has always appealed to me the most, especially painting but also creating jewellery or clothes. I liked to read because I am very curious and also enjoyed learning everything new. As I grew older, my street became small and I was attracted to distant horizons. This is how the world around me, which I wanted to explore, grew with me. I drew feelings from my experiences because one picture says more than a thousand words.
In high school, I also started to enjoy physics, because my world crossed the borders of the Earth and reached far into space. I was fascinated by Eastern philosophy and discovered Hinduism and Buddhism, which better expressed my attitude to life. At that time, I began to meditate, gladly and often. During meditation I was not bound by the past, nor was I worried about the future. I only perceived here and now and felt to be part of everything.
As a child drawing allowed me to capture my feelings but also visions and what others did not perceive. I participated in many children’s and student exhibitions. It also allowed me to study design in the Art Department at the Technical University in Košice. This field attracted me mainly because it combined the study of art with technical and natural sciences such as physics and mathematics. At that time, I also worked on the creation of pictograms for graphic information systems. Designing clear and easy-to-understand picture messages completely engulfed me because they overcome language barriers and have a great narrative value.
On the day of my graduation, my first son Lukas was born and I became a full time mom, but in the evenings I continued to paint. Ten years later, my second son Marius was born with a new partner. Lukas has always enjoyed drawing and studying sculpture and painting. Marius was accompanied by an imaginary friend throughout his childhood. That friend was a snake. He once came to me and asked me why I was still meditating. I was surprised by his question. He told me, “Mom, do you know that the best meditation is life itself?” No, I did not know it at the time. My two children had a similar worldview to me and that’s when I realized that the people around me were more like me. More than I thought before.
Marius was fascinated by science and physics, studied quantum physics and is currently doing his doctorate studies at the Royal Holloway University in London and at the National Physics Laboratory.
In 2012 I had an interesting meeting with the Master. He entered my meditation. We sat by a mountain lake and he told me to look for a path I had already begun under his guidance in the past. Now I must not wait for anything, I must look for Dzogchen.
It was late at night when I came out of this meditation. How do I find Dzogchen, I wondered. And then, try Google. So, I opened the computer and found a page of the Dzogchen Community, not somewhere far away in an unknown country, but here in my city. The next day, I called and met a man, Juraj Karlik, who told me about Dzogchen and his master Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, who was giving a worldwide transmission via webcast in a few days. On the wall was a picture of a man and a woman, exactly the ones I had once seen in one of my meditations – Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri in yab yum. And, yes, I knew right away that I was supposed to be here. This is the way I learned about Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche.
Then I met the Rinpoche in person several times. My first meeting was at Merigar, Italy in 2013 when he was giving teachings and transmissions. I felt as if his words were addressed to me personally – each of them directly touched my heart. It was as if he was a member of my family. Then in 2016 in Prague and Bratislava I had the opportunity to meet him again in person. I also met him in Wangdenling, which was the strongest but unfortunately also the last personal meeting. I brought one of my paintings to Rinpoche in Bratislava for a meeting. Then he encouraged me and said that it would be good to show them at the gallery.
Once my children grew up if I wasn’t doing individual exhibitions, I would show my own art. In Prague, I exhibited jewelry and had a long-term exhibition as well as paintings in the K2 studios and the Nova Gallery. Marius was studying at Charles University at the time and I was lecturing on modern art techniques. In 2016 I had a joint exhibition in Košice with my son Lukas Polyak, called NEXT.
Meeting the Dzogchen teaching changed my life and the way I express myself through painting. In one of the last teachings I received from the Master, he said that over time, one must find one’s inner master. Although Rinpoche has ended his journey, I still feel a strong connection and have many personal experiences that show me that his legacy is still alive with us, here.
After the transmission and the teachings, I painted a set of paintings using alcohol ink on Yupo paper technique. These are bubbles that intersect with each other to form different shapes and chains. In other paintings, vague bubbles turn into concrete images of flowers, nature, and people. I ended this period of my work with an exhibition named Spirit in spiritus in July 2017 in Košice.
Then I experimented with pictures using acrylic on canvas where the background is golden. The gilding metallic lustre of the background makes the essence of shapes, flowers, butterflies stand out. When the observer moves in front of such an image, he interacts with the observer as if this picture comes to life and it were breathing.
Now I am working on monotypes gelatine board prints. These are graphics each one of which is an original. I also like to combine them with gilding. My work varies quite a lot and I paint landscapes, flowers, sea animals, and abstract feelings using several techniques. Life has so many different forms that it would be a shame to limit oneself to one painting technique.
In 2018, I started looking for a gallery to collaborate with in London, where my son Marius is now studying. Although I managed to make successful contact, the Covid pandemic has completely prevented the development of this cooperation as I haven’t been able to travel to London. So far, everything is in the stars.
I am not special; I am just trying to do what makes me happy. Each of us has talent in him or herself, we just need to discover it, relax, and let it have space.
What attracts me the most to Dzogchen is the idea that we are all perfect beings, we are real Buddhas, only due to various aspects of our minds we are not able to perceive it. There is no need to chase after enlightenment like a dog behind his tail. It is our natural state.
And one final consideration. How did Darwin come to believe that we come from monkeys? He must have read somewhere that our mind is like a monkey, jumping from thought to thought and it was mainly the monkey that resonated with him. One who cannot calm their monkey, will be like a monkey. Mostly I am such a monkey, but when I paint, the monkey is busy and I can stay in the natural state.
Thank you Rinpoche for your teaching that allowed me to understand.
Frederica Henrieta Hegedus